Besides the traditional legend of Santa Claus, before Christmas in some Alpine countries, they also tell the tale of the demonic Krampus, who punishes children who have misbehaved during the year by beating and torturing them.
The legend of Krampus is widespread in Austria, Germany and Hungary. His name, translated from German, means "animal claw". The monster goes around children's homes along with Santa Claus, but instead of handing out gifts, Krampus uses a stick to beat children who have been naughty.
Krampus is even more cruel to children who have been especially picky and impossible to please. He kidnaps the naughty child, putting him or her in his bag and taking them to his cave, so that he can eat them on Christmas.
According to other versions of the legend, Krampus would first take the children to his castle, then throw them into the sea.
This creature of folklore became extremely popular during the 18th - 19th centuries. The church briefly prohibited tales being told about him, since the dogma was at complete odds with any legends pertaining to demonic beings.
Later, however, this ban was lifted and Krampus remained the cohort of Santa Claus in the folk psyche. Today, the Krampus legend is still kept alive. In some parts of Europe they even mark the so-called "Krampus Night".
Every December 5 in Bavaria, they celebrate the Christmas demon by dressing up like him and even organize a large carnival in his honor, asking for his punishments before Christmas to be a bit lighter.
According to folklore, Krampus is a horned creature, covered in black-brown hair and walking on hooves. His appearance is quite similar to the image of the Devil.
Krampus carries with him chains, a wooden stick and a bag, which he uses to punish kids who have been misbehaving throughout the year, while according to some he even takes them with him to Hell.
His image was made up to constantly remind children to act nice, otherwise they would not only not receive any Christmas gifts, they would also be severely punished.