Krampus has been a subject of European greeting cards since the early 1800s.Most start with a greeting from krampus “Gruss Vom Krampus” and end with a humorous poem or saying. Early cards portray a fierce and terrifying krampus.
They are shown torturing children in numerous ways. Some classic cards feature beatings with a wood switch, tearing off pigtails, ear pulling, imprisonment in shackles or the krampus’s basket backpack, sending children on a one way train
to hell and lastly, drowning in ink. These classic cards are now highly collectible and are seen as modern forms of art. During the 1960s, krampus took a turn for the risqué, being featured as a hapless man-beast intent on wooing buxom young women in cartoons reminiscent of early playboy cartoons. More recent incarnations of this devilish figure have taken on a cherubic form giving the punishing entity a softer comedic side.
From his early incarnations in card form to his modern day portrayals, the krampus has become a pop culture icon. Although his uptake to The United States has been slow, recent years have shown a renewed interest in the Krampus from young adults looking for edgier and alternative ways to celebrate the holiday season.
The character has appeared on numerous animated television shows, video games, and movies. Books featuring archived histories of krampus lore and greeting cards are a popular holiday item. Even the normal trappings of Christmas have given way to devilish incarnations including krampus sweaters, a demonic twist on the classic holiday fare and krampus ornaments to adorn a blood red holiday tree. The cultural “krampus train” shows no signs of slowing down. As more and more people discover this lesser known character of holiday tradition, the krampus is being assimilated into modern culture.
KRAMPUS IN THE MEDIA “Recent Sightings”
Krampus on American Dad
Krampus on Grimm
Krampus on The Venture Bros
Krampus related film, Rare Exports, currently available on Netflix