If you suffer as I do, then you know that the threats of "The Naughty List" have worn off over year's of unfulfilled spartan Christmas trees.
Present-free Christmasses only go so far as I can take them. Christmas might be slim at my house, but it's like--well, Christmas everywhere else my spawn might travel. Grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have all conspired against the parent who tries to keep their Santa-jaded children in check.
Well, friends, I come bearing a gift for you. This gift is centuries old and made of nightmares.
Krampus is Santa's bastard basement-dwelling step brother who nobody really likes to talk about. But sometimes, when the squids are being particularly ornery and neither threats of Jesus nor Santa will suffice, he's always there.
Krampus was wrenched from the loins of pre-Christian Germanic folklore and looks like Pan after a really rough night of hanging out with Dionysus. Red-tongued, saggy-eyed and rocking the worst case of bed head imaginable, you'd think just looking at this fella would keep your kids in line. But if that doesn't work (all of these shameful video games have rid these children of visual fear!), just let them in on his seasonal gig.
Krampusnacht: The night before the feast of St. Nicholas (aka Santa), the good St. Nick and his freaky bro take a stroll. Then they knock on doors. St. Nick only pays attention to the good kids and doles out presents (emphasize this point with your own kids, will you?) where as Krampus has an eye for the bratty ones and hands out coal and ruten bundles to beat the kids.
Holy shit, right? Kids getting beat on Christmas?! (Technically, St. Nick's feast is on Dec. 6th in European countries, but you don't have to divulge this tidbit to your spawn.)
But wait: It gets worse. Krampus also carries a basket on his back which he stuffs the truly terrible children into and steals them away to his lair/hell (you pick, it's your threat).
If you think this is bananas, you should see all of the images of the Krampus Parade where folks strut their goat-fur hides and rusty chains and giant horns and red tongues in the street. And if you think that this Krampus figure is scary, I can only imagine how he must have looked centuries ago.
So g'head. Tell your kids this cautionary tale. Just know you may want to give them the watered-down version before freaking them the hell out. Then we'll see who's watered down at 3:30 AM.