Krampus, in Central European popular legend, a half-goat, half-demon monster that punishes misbehaving children at Christmas time. He is the devilish companion of st Nicholas. Krampus is believed to have originated in Germany, and his name derives from the German work Krampus, which means "claw".
Krampus was thought to have been pre-Christian and a large part of pagan rituals for the winter solstice. According to legend, he is the son of Hel, the Norse god of the underworld. With the spread of Christianity, Krampus became associated with Christmas - dispite efforts by the Catholic Church to ban him. The creature and St. Nick are said to arrive on the evening of December 5th ( Krampusnacht; "Krampus Night" ). While St. Nick rewards nice children by leaving presents, Krampus beats those who are naughty with branches and sticks from the birch tree. In some cases, he is said to eat them or take them to hell. On December 6th, St. Nicholas day, children awaken to find their gifts or to nurse their injuries.
Festivities involving Krampus include the Krampuslauf ( "Krampus Run" ). In this activity, which often involves alcohol, people dressed as the creature parade through the streets, scaring spectators and sometimes chasing them.
Beginning in the late 20th century, amid effort to preserve cultural heritage, Krampus runs became increasingly popular in Austria and Germany. During this time Krampus began to be celebrated internationally and the monsters growing appeal was evidenced by numerous horror films. Some claimed that the expanding popularity of Krampus was a reaction to the commercialisation of Christmas.