This Christmas, forget Santa. There's a mythical creature that's making a big comeback: the Krampus.
Popular in Alpine villages centuries ago, Krampus scared kids straight—his long red tongue upped the fear factor—and taught them that evil bows before good. He served Santa’s forerunner, kindly St. Nicholas, who had “the power to send Krampus back to hell,” says Austrian ethnologist Ulrike Kammerhofer-Aggermann. [...]
But by the 1800s, church leaders had marginalized Krampus. Now he’s enjoying a mini-revival, mainly for the fun of it. The Austrian state of Salzburg alone has 180 Krampus clubs, more than half set up since 1990, says Josef Moser, Jr., chairman of Austria’s Krampus Museum. Revelers roam streets in Krampus garb, rattle bells, and roar. “It feels good!” says Moser.