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Six cranky, grumpy Yuletide terrors are about to hit town – you’d better watch out and here I’m telling you why. We all know Santa gives gifts to the good kids, but in traditions around the world his counterparts bring fear as well as fun to the festive season. These scary Santas are nothing to laugh about.
The Krampus roams across Austria, Romania and Hungary. He is hairy, with goat horns and a long pointed tongue and his name derives from the word ‘claw’. His appearance is fearful and he jangles rusty chains and bells and carries naughty children off in his sack. This tradition has spread to the US, with this year’s LA Krampusfest, and Krampus featuring in an episode of American Dad where Krampus is voiced by Danny Glover, star of Lethal Weapon. Here is a gang of Krampus in action:
A similar tradition exists in Switzerland, where stroppy Schmutzli stomps through the snow with a sack and a whip made of twigs. He too threatens to thrash or abduct any mischievous or disobedient children.
#3 Uncle Knapsack
The same tradition exists in Haiti where good children get gifts from Tonton Noel (Uncle Christmas) but naughty children are visited by Tonton Macoute (Uncle Knapsack). Knapsack comes in the night, stuffs naughty children into his woven sack and carries them off to eat for breakfast.
The Scandinavian tradition is of the Yule-Goat, a half man half goat who frightens naughty children. Today he is less scary and in Finland and Norway people go out Yule-Goating, singing carols dressed as goats asking for treats. In Sweden the Yule-Goat is found Gävle where every year a four ton straw goat is set on fire.
# 5 Père Fouttard
In France, ‘Father Whip’ looks like the wild man of the woods with dark robes, long tangled hair and a straggly beard. He gives coal to the good kids and floggings to the naughty ones. In some traditions he wears a wicker backpack to carry off the extremely naughty children.
‘Nicholas in Furs’ roams the towns of Germany covered in fur with a long tongue teaching bad children good manners. In one hand he carries a sack of candy, in the other a whip made of twigs. He wears tinkling bells in order for terrified children hear him drawing closer. He knocks at doors and windows and asks children questions. If they answer correctly he gives them a treat, but if they grab it too greedily he hits them with his whip! This tradition still exists in Pennsylvania and was shown in an episode of The Office where he is summed up as ‘Kind of like Santa, but dirty and worse”.
These scary guys should really make even the naughtiest child listen up and behave themselves!
But all is not lost – as they traditionally visit in early December, there is still time for naughty kids to mend their ways in time for Christmas gifts from good old Santa.