In the last decade, English-speaking culture has become aware of the goat-horned, rolling-tongued Krampus, the demonic figure of Germanic and Slavic mythology who acts as an anti-Santa Claus and goes around at Christmas punishing children who’ve been naughty. Among other things, there’s been a Hollywood movie made about him, 2015’s Krampus, and he appeared in a 2016 festive episode of the BBC anthology series Inside No 9.
Only recently, though, did I discover that mainland Europeans have had a long tradition of exchanging Krampuskarten, greeting cards featuring the Krampus that are often charming in their colours and visual designs. They even include some bawdy cards where the saucy old festive demon is seen cavorting with buxom young ladies. However, it’s the ones showing naughty kids getting punished – something depicted with a pleasing Roald Dahl-style directness – that I like best.
So Merry Christmas. I trust Santa has been good to you. Or if you’ve misbehaved, the Krampus has been bad to you.