Holiday Traditions- Krampusnacht

By Ean Thielbar

Decorations for Krampusnacht, a holiday similar to Christmas on Dec. 6.
Decorations for Krampusnacht, a holiday similar to Christmas on Dec. 6.

On December 7th, junior Josh Zoepfel wakes up and comes downstairs to take a glance at the kitchen table. He rushes to the table to see presents on the plates, but finds sticks also. This isn’t strange to him; it’s just another ordinary Krampusnacht.

“It’s pretty much like Christmas,” Josh said. “You wake up, you get presents. It’s simple.”

Krampusnacht is a European tradition on December 6th, where families put plates on their tables, go to bed and wake up to find presents on the plates. If they have been good kids, they get good presents; if they are bad kids, they get sticks. According to the folktale, two characters said to be Saint Nicholas and a half goat, half demon character called “Grumpus” or “Krampus” sneaks into houses and leaves gifts and sticks on their plates. Saint Nicholas encourages children to be good and Grumpus punishes children who are bad.

“I usually get movies and DVDs from Saint Nick,” Zoepfel said. “I always get one, two, or three sticks. The more sticks you get, the worse your punishment is.  You’re supposed to carry around the sticks around all throughout December.”

Josh’s family has been celebrating this tradition for centuries. Ever since the 1800s, his great-great grandfather has passed down a Saint Nick and Grumpus doll through his family. This doll, currently in possession of his grandma, is worth thousands of dollars.

“I want to keep these two dolls throughout my whole life and pass it down to my kids when we celebrate Krampusnacht as well as Christmas.” said Josh.