It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Krampus

Bad Toelz, Germany - December 3, 2016: first traditional krampuslauf in Bad Toelz, Germany. The Krampus is in the tradition of a fright figure in the company of St. Nicholas. He is a figure of Advent in the Eastern Alps, in southern Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate, in Austria, parts of the Principality of Liechtenstein, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, South Tyrol, Welschtirol (Trentino), and parts of Croatia. While Nicholas gives presents to the good children, the naughty ones are punished by the Krampus.

By John Zmirak Published on December 17, 2019

Wikipedia defines it as well as I could:

In Central European folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as “half-goat, half-demon”, who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved. This contrasts with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts.

For 1,000 years the Christians of Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and other lands reminded their children of the shadow side of Christmas. And scared them into better behavior in a dangerous, fallen world. (“Do you want gifts from St. Nick, or to be carried off by Krampus?”) How else should we help kids make sense of the birth of a “redeemer” than to remind them why anyone needs redemption? Redemption from whom, from what?

Isn’t eternal rescue from a horned, hateful Accuser the reason for the season?

The most theological Christmas carol we still sing makes the case:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appears and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices. …

I doubt a single child in America, however naughty, will receive any lumps of coal. Much less will any fear that the devil could carry him off. But aren’t those stakes each of us now plays for? Isn’t eternal rescue from a horned, hateful Accuser the reason for the season?

Time for a Krampus Carol

Maybe what makes the Infant Jesus seems less relevant is the palpable absence of Krampus. To help with that, I’ve penned the beginning of a Krampus carol.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Krampus,
Everywhere you go.
Take a look at the Democrats
And the streets filling up with rats.
Burning flags and tear gas clouds, oh no!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Krampus.
Porn on every phone.
But the scariest sight I’ve ranked
Is the cartel that’s encamped
In my own brownstone.

Dressed in S&M boots are the trans prostitutes
At our drag queen story hour.
The churches must close as the judges dispose
As we freeze from renewable power.
And antifascists tear down all
The statues of Eisenhower. …

I feel sure the reader can write the rest himself.

Sure, there’s a weary, grinning Santa on every street corner. I even played one myself, as a teen on the streets of Queens. (Every hour or so I’d duck into a bar and get free drinks from the tipsy old Celtic ladies by singing the “Ave Maria.”)

But isn’t Krampus in charge pretty much everywhere else? At public schools and libraries, on social and mainstream media, on streaming movie channels and virtually every campus, Krampus sits enthroned. He’s hungry for kids to come sit on his lap, and have conversations like this one.

The Krampus on 34th Street

Marty, eight years old, hesitates. He’s not sure he wants to sit in Krampus’ lap. But his Ivy-educated apostate Episcopal parents, who both work for the federal government, shove him forward. “It’s cultural!” they insist.

KRAMPUS: Hello there! What are your pronouns, please?


KRAMPUS: Do you identify as a girl, a boy, genderqueer, or something else even more unique and wonderful?

MARTY: A boy. Definitely. My name is Marty.

KRAMPUS: Okay, Marty. But don’t feel trapped by that, okay? These things can change, and that’s perfectly normal and good. In fact, your gender might change next year, or even next week!

MARTY: What? How? No way. Mom! … 

KRAMPUS: Settle down, young “man.” Nothing to be afraid of. Don’t internalize all those societal norms. That can make a person hateful. You don’t want to be a hater, do you?

MARTY: Er, no.

KRAMPUS: Because what happens to haters?

MARTY: They get …

KRAMPUS: … Cancelled, don’t they? And then they have to go live where? … 

MARTY: I dunno.

KRAMPUS: In one of the Red States, where everybody’s racist and the food is terrible, and people are all dying of opioid addiction, while clinging to their guns and religion.

MARTY: We’re not religious. Dad says Evolution made us, but racism is still wrong. Because. …

KRAMPUS: And a very wise dad you have there. But I hope your mom gets to impart her values too.

MARTY: Yeah, she totally does. Like, all the time.

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KRAMPUS: Do you have any Krampus wishes this year?

MARTY: Well, I wanted a BB gun. But mom said …

KRAMPUS: That cisgender straight white males with guns only reinforce the heteronormative narrative and Settler religion.

MARTY: Yeah! That’s exactly what she said. How did you know?

KRAMPUS: It’s the holiday message from Google, son. And a sound one.

MARTY: So instead she told me to ask for the Pacha … Pacham …

KRAMPUS: You mean the Pachamama doll?

MARTY: Yeah. That.

KRAMPUS: An excellent choice. It represents Nature, and the Divine, and how each one of us is a tiny, helpless part of the vast, fragile mechanism that is the Biosphere. We sell them up on the 13th floor. Look for the ones with a Certificate of Authenticity from the Vatican. Cost a little more, but they’re the real deal! Made by indigenous peoples from sustainable materials.

MARTY: Okay, thanks I guess.abortions-are-magical

KRAMPUS: Wait just a moment. You’re not leaving here empty-handed. This is for you, young “man.”

Krampus hands Marty a box. Marty’s eyes briefly light up. He impetuously tears it open. It’s a prayer candle.

KRAMPUS: Are you a strong reader, Marty? What does it say?

MARTY: “Abort … Abortions Are Magical.”

KRAMPUS: That’s right, and don’t you forget it! Happy Krampus, Marty!

MARTY: Okay.

Marty leaps out of the horned figure’s lap and presents the Planned Parenthood candle to his mother. She smiles, pats him on the head, and the couple leads Marty up to the 13th floor.


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration.

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