Krampus is believed to be half goat half human. A huge hairy creature with fangs, red eyes, cloven hooves and covered in hair. He carries a large basket on his back into which he sweeps the bad children that he beats with the bundle of twigs he carries known as ruten.
The origin of the Krampus legend is lost to history, but the tradition of Krampus Nacht can be traced back to 12th century Germany. Early in the month of December children would begin to hear stories of a dark-haired fanged creature, carrying a bundle of birch sticks known as a ruten; these he would use to swat naughty children. Tradition tells us that Krampus would enter the towns ringing his bells and shaking the chains wrapped around him to capture the bad children, sweeping them into his basket and carrying them to the underworld. This would all take place on December 5th, the night before Saint Nicholas rewarded all the good children with presents.
Krampus Nacht is still celebrated in many towns throughout the European Alps today. Krampus Parades are held during the day and in the evenings the men of the city will dress up as Krampus and dance through the streets.