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There’s an evil Christmas demon kids are terrified of in Austria
Featured Image Credit: agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo/Alex Hammond / Alamy Stock Photo

There’s an evil Christmas demon kids are terrified of in Austria

The Krampus is much worse than getting coal in your stocking

Christmas is a time of the year that many associate with wonderful mythical creatures like elves, but not all of them are good.

If you happen to live in Austria, there's one holiday character who sends a chill down the spine of any self-respecting child: Krampus.

While Santa rewards children who've been well-behaved throughout the year, he does the exact opposite and punishes those who've misbehaved.

Think of getting a lump of coal in your stocking on Christmas morning but much, much worse.

The Krampus is enough to scare adults - never mind just children.
Alamy / Hector Chapman

Sure, the Grinch is unsettling, but even he is wearing a Santa suit, the Krampus, instead, is a goat-like creature who looks like he's crawled straight out of the depths of Hell.

The creature's horrible purpose is even hinted at in his name, Krampus, which is the German word for 'claw'.

At this point, it's worth noting that the Krampus tradition doesn't just exist in Austria, but throughout central Europe, where the myth is used to keep children's behaviour in check throughout the holidays.

As reported by Britannica, the Krampus is part of an old legend which states that the creature is the hellish sidekick of the much more appealing St Nicholas - AKA Santa Claus.

The Krampus looks like he's come straight from the underworld for a good reason, and according to the legend, this is because he's actually the son of Hel, who is the Norse god of the underworld.

Because of the creature's negative connotations, the Krampus once caused such a stir that the Catholic church tried to ban the creature.

But the legend still persists and it is used to scare adults too - having become the subject of holiday horror films.

The creature is so scary he's been the subject of horror films.
Universal Pictures

Krampus isn't just the stuff of legend either, and there are entire festivals dedicated to the creature in Austria and Germany.

At these events, people dressed up as the demon jump out and scare children, so it's probably no wonder then that they are terrified of him.

As reported by Live Science, traditionally Krampus punished naughty children on the evening of 5 December, which is also known as 'Krampus Nacht'.

Jennifer Collins of the State University of New York said this is because it's the day before the feast of St Nicolas, on December 6.

In a nutshell, Krampus is the bad Santa and he deals with all of the bad in the world before the good is celebrated.

The Krampus even drags some bad children to Hell.
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While Krampus was only terrifying a relatively small number of children in the past, thanks to Hollywood and festivals, the legend is greater than ever.

Ilona Grabmaier of the University of Vienna speculated why this might be the case, writing: "Advances in technology and social media may be one reason for an increase in popularity of the Krampus tradition."