Tonight, December 5, 2016, is Krampusnacht (Krampus Night)!
It's the time of year where that hairy devil, Krampus, comes-a-knocking to snatch up bad boys and girls for supper or else whip them with birch sticks. And all this time you thought that the punishment for bad boys and girls was just to get a lump of coal for Christmas!
Krampus is the dark-counterpart of St, Nicholas or Santa Clause. He proceeds Santa's visit, punishing bad children before Santa comes to reward the good little boys and girls.
In appearance, Krampus is quite hairy, is horned, and has only one cloven hoof with the other foot being of normal appearance. He carries a bundle of birth sticks to punish bad boys and girls and a sack on his back to abduct the children he preferred to take home to consume for dinner.
At this time of year it was once traditional for young adults to send Krampus greeting cards with quaint and humor-filled images of the devil Krampus scaring, whipping, or abducting bad boys and girls. It was a tongue-and-cheek method of letting the recipient know that they were about to get their just rewards!
One of my favorite postcards was of a young couple making out, only to have Krampus jump out with birch twigs in hand to beat them for their public displays of affection.
It is also traditional for communities in various European countries to Krampusnacht parades where people dressed up as Krampus or other dark minions. It's sort of like Halloween in December.
So beware little ones! The big bad monster is out tonight!