Christmastime is all about poinsettias, Santa hats, Rudolph noses, and bedazzled gingerbread men plastered on fuzzy sweaters, right? Wrong. For those of us who find those dancing sugarplums lacking, this festive, candy-cane-centered holiday has always been in need of a little, well, nastiness. I, for one, prefer to think of this as the time of year when Krampus can roam the earth freely.
In Austria and Germany, Krampus is the opposite of Santa Claus — a hairy, black, demonic presence with cloven hooves and a Gene Simmons tongue. In fact, he looks suspiciously like a cross between Satan and the lead singer of Gwar.
To put it simply, Saint Nicholas and Krampus essentially play Christmas' good cop/bad cop. Nick rewards chubby-cheeked children for their angelic behavior by delivering them gifts. But, if you found yourself on the naughty list, Krampus would stuff you in a sack and drag you back to his dungeon lair to do God-knows-what.
Of course, many people find Krampus too disturbing for children, which would explain why I was raised to believe that I would get a lump of coal for Christmas if I was bad all year. What a joke. Clearly, the fear of a Satanic-beast kidnapper would have been a much more effective behavioral modifier than the idea of receiving a harmless chunk of carbon.
So, forget ugly Christmas sweaters. December should be the time when you ransack the thrift stores for hairy, black coats and cloven-toed boots. If your idea of holiday cheer is more black metal than jingle bells, steer clear of the red suit, and click ahead to create your own ultimate Krampus look. It's truly devilish.