Welcome to our Online Advent Calendar series, where we’re doing 25 days of Christmas challenges to get everyone into the spirit! (Today’s video is “The Krampus Song” by Jordan Dobbs Rosa. Grüss Vom Krampus!)

Meet the Krampus!

Long before the Elf on the Shelf arrived to annoy the hell out of American kids, Alpine ankle-biters feared the judgment of the Krampus, St. Nicholas’s demon-like BFF.

The legend goes that on Krampus Night (Krampusnacht, Dec. 5), the Krampus –  a hairy beast with sharp horns, a long pointed tongue and cloven hooves (cloven hooves!) – shows up at the homes of naughty children to beat the ever-loving snot out of them with a mighty birch branch. And if they’ve REALLY been bad, he shoves them into a hamper so he can snack on them later, presumably with a warm pretzel and a squirt of spicy mustard.

In reality, parents often recruit a friend to dress as the Krampus, terrorize the kids and stick around to get their drink on. Some guys also dress as the Christmas demon to run in parades called Krampuslaufen, where they rattle their rusty chains and bells and come after the kids in the crowd. Who LOVE it. (This could very well be Jeff’s calling.)

It’s like Comic Con, with a purpose.

So, are American kids safe from the Krampus? Maybe not for long. In recent years, they have been Krampus events in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Portland, Ore.

Today’s Swell Link: A real Krampus parade! (They look scary, but you’ll see a kid give one a hug at the 2:45 mark.)

Selected Christmas TV:

  • How Murray Saved Christmas (8pm/7c, NBC)
  • Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever (8pm/7c, Lifetime)
  • The Nativity Story (8pm/7c, AMC)
  • A Very Grammy Christmas (9pm/8c, CBS
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas (9pm/8c, Hallmark)