Krampus in popular culture

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Krampus Was Here
Sign on a pole in University City, late 2014.[note 1]

Krampus, the "Christmas Devil" of Austrian and Bavarian folklore, has entered the popular culture of North America;[1] Christian Jacobs notes that "thanks to the Internet and YouTube,[note 2] [Krampus] is now very much on America's Christmas radar."[2] Tanya Basu interprets this as part of a "growing movement of anti-Christmas celebrations": a "bah, humbug" rejection of – or novel alternative to – mainstream festivities.[1] Brian Joines of Image Comics suspects that the reason Krampus (specifically, as well as dark aspects of Christmas in general) has not been historically popularized in America is a social artifact resulting from "the nature of how we view Christmas in this country, both as a big day for kids and as the birth of a big religious figurehead".[3] In some North American depictions, Krampus is an antihero who seeks to prevent children from becoming spoiled by rampant consumerism flowing from the economics of Christmas.

Krampus is often mentioned in media related to Christmas,[note 3] but the following lists instances where the character is featured significantly.

Krampus celebrations[edit]

Washington DC Krampusnacht walk, 2016.

Krampus-related events are held in cities across north America. Each may have a theme or cause, be it a simple bar crawl, toy drive, or a charity fundraiser. Below are a few:

  • Krampusnacht Washington DC.[4]
  • Toronto Krampus Ball.[5]
  • Chicago Krampus Fest.[6]
  • LA Krampusfest.[7]
  • San Francisco Krampus Krawl.[8]
  • Dallas Krampus Society.[9]
  • Krampuslauf Philadelphia.[10]


Costumed characters are a central part of all Krampus celebrations. These characters include: Krampus, Saint Nikolaus, the woodsman, angels, and the old woman. As Krampus is half-goat and half-demon, the costume normally shares certain primary elements such as: a fur suit, horns, demon mask, and hooves. Props commonly used are; bells, a birch switch, basket worn on the back, chains, walking staff, and a horse hair or hemp flogger. The most traditional Krampus costumes are made from goat/sheep skins, animal horns, and hand carved masks. More often they are made with modern and less costly materials, such as: fake fur and latex masks. Several Krampus costume instructional YouTube videos are available.[11][12][13][14][15]


In production[edit]



Live action[edit]

Print media[edit]


  • CarnEvil arcade game (1998), has a "freakishly evil St. Nick" boss named Krampus.[30][31]
  • Random Spirit Lover album (2007), by the Canadian indie band Sunset Rubdown, features a picture of Krampus on the back cover. Spencer Krug stated that it was placed there because "he represents the sort of duality that's a theme on the record, the two sides of every thing."[32]
  • The Binding of Isaac video game (2011), features Krampus as a possible surprise boss encounter in rooms where the player would normally expect the chance to make a pact with the Devil. Upon being defeated, he leaves behind a lump of coal, or his own head that can be used as a weapon.[33]
  • In the video game Don't Starve (2013), Krampus is a monster that appears after the player kills a certain number of innocent creatures. Carrying a sack, he steals nearby items on the floor as well as in storage containers.
  • The single "Naughty Christmas" (2016) by Italian band Lacuna Coil mentions Krampus repeatedly throughout the song.[34]
  • Bicycle company Surly offers a trail bike model named the Krampus.
  • In the video game Killing Floor 2, Krampus and his lair have been added as a content update in December 2017.
  • Krampus: A Yuletide Tale, a musical by Carrie Gilchrist (book, lyrics) and Nils-Petter Ankarblom (book, music, lyrics).[35] It was first produced at Short North Stage in Columbus, Ohio in December 2015.[36][37][38]
  • Overwatch, a online video game by Blizzard Entertainment, features a customized Krampus skin for the character Junkrat to be featured for their "Overwatch Winter Wonderland" event.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Jack Frost in Harper's Weekly (1861)

Apart from evil versions of normally good Christmas characters (i.e. Santa, Frosty, etc.), or Jack Frost who is usually depicted as just mischievous, malevolent monsters associated with Christmas in North American popular culture other than Krampus include, in chronological order:


Informational notes

  1. ^ cf. Kilroy was here
  2. ^ A short film called A Krampus Carol was produced in 2011 for Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations but never aired, as the Travel Channel considered it inappropriate; "Luckily, the special lives on on YouTube". Seth Abramovitch (December 12, 2011). "Travel Channel Pulls Touching Christmas Special About a Child-Licking Demon". Gawker. Archived from the original on December 18, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  3. ^ Krampus is briefly mentioned in the Supernatural (U.S. TV series) episode "A Very Supernatural Christmas" (2007) as being one of the anti-Clauses in folklore.
  4. ^ ISBN 978-0-06-209565-7. Brom's Krampus page.


  1. ^ a b c Tanya Basu (December 17, 2013). "Who Is Krampus? Explaining the Horrific Christmas Devil". National Geographic Society. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Hill, Jim (December 20, 2013). "Watch Santa Give Krampus a Seasonal Smackdown on The Aquabats! Super Show! Holiday Special". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "Joines & Kotz's "Krampus!" Terrorizes Christmas at Image". Comic Book Resources. November 19, 2013. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Krampusnacht Dc. "Krampusnacht Dc". Krampusnacht Dc. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  5. ^ "Krampus Ball". Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  6. ^ "Martyrs' 4th Annual Krampus Fest – Dec. 3 | Dark Chicago". Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  7. ^ "2016 LA KRAMPUSFEST EVENTS". Krampus Los Angeles. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  8. ^ "2016 "Krampus Krawl": Scary Xmas Pub Crawl | Oakland | Funcheap". December 10, 2016. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  9. ^ "Krampus Walk | Krampus Society | Dallas Fort Worth | Tx". Krampus Society. February 22, 1999. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  10. ^ "philadelphia's family-friendly, maker-friendly festival of winter terror!". Krampuslauf Philadelphia. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  11. ^ "Fur suit Krampus part 1". YouTube. December 6, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  12. ^ "The Making of Krampus, for the Krampus run in Salzburg Austria". YouTube. December 3, 2016. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "Making Krampus". YouTube. December 6, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  14. ^ "Woodcarving "Wooden mask" : Timelapse". YouTube. April 21, 2016. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  15. ^ "Schnitzteufel - Feri Heindl 2012". YouTube. December 13, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d e Squires, John (December 6, 2017). "The 8 Different 'Krampus' Horror Films You Can Watch This Holiday Season". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  17. ^ "vom KRAMPUS". Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  18. ^ "Krampus (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  19. ^ Mike Fleming Jr (May 9, 2014). "Legendary Taps Michael Dougherty To Helm Horror Comedy 'Krampus'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  20. ^ "Cannes: Kevin Smith's 'Anti-Claus' Presells in Key Foreign Markets (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. May 31, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  21. ^ Busch, Anita (July 16, 2015). "Walden Media, Jim Henson Pact For Family Holiday Laffer 'Happy Krampus'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  22. ^ G4 Winter 2003 Commercials (Krampus commercial begins ~4:21)
  23. ^ "The Colbert Report - Series | Comedy Central Official Site |". September 30, 2016. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  24. ^ Nicholson, Rebecca (December 28, 2016). "Inside No 9: The Devil of Christmas review – macabre merriment all round". Retrieved December 9, 2017 – via
  25. ^ Josh Zyber (December 17, 2013). "'Grimm' 3.07 & 3.08 Recap: "We're Dealing with One Sick Santa"". The Bonus View. High-Def Digest. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  26. ^ Dorothy Snarker (January 2, 2014). ""Lost Girl" Recap (4.08): Soylent green is candy". AfterEllen. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
  27. ^ Hix, Lisa (December 11, 2012). "You'd Better Watch Out: Krampus Is Coming to Town". Collectors Weekly. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  28. ^ Kevin Melrose (July 21, 2011). "Dark Horse's Chickenhare Getting Animated By Sony". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  29. ^ Barbara Hoffert (May 3, 2012). "Fiction Previews, November 2012, Pt. 1: McCall Smith, Mayle, Munro, and More". Library Journal. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  30. ^ Ashley Reed and David Houghton (December 19, 2014). "12 games where you beat the everloving cheer out of Santa Claus". GamesRadar. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  31. ^ "CarnEvil- Rickety Town boss". YouTube. May 10, 2007. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  32. ^ Jason Crock (October 15, 2007). "Sunset Rubdown". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  33. ^ "The Binding of Isaac - Krampus". YouTube. June 30, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  34. ^ "Lacuna Coil - Naughty Christmas (Lyric Video)". YouTube. Century Media Records. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  35. ^ "Creating Krampus: Naughty to Nice". Short North Stage : Blog. December 1, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  36. ^ "Krampus: A Yuletide Tale at Short North Stage". Short North Stage. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  37. ^ Grossberg, Michael (December 14, 2015). "Theater review | 'Krampus': Light touch just enough to brighten holiday tale". Columbus Dispatch. Columbus, Ohio, U.S. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  38. ^ Sanford, Richard (December 13, 2015). "Theatre Review: Short North Stage's Krampus: A Yuletide Tale Has Magic to Spare". Columbus Underground. Columbus, Ohio, US. Retrieved November 20, 2016.