The Origins of the Fearful Yuletide Monster Krampus

In a chilling episode of the PBS series Storied, renowned monster expert Dr. Emily Zarka explains the historic origins of the widely feared Yuletide creature Krampus.


Zarka explains how the horned creature was rumored to stalk the Slavic and Alpine countrysides searching for misbehaving children. Zarka also notes that the stories of Krampus are neither a Pagan nor Nordic in tradition and that these stories became most popular during the early 19th century.

This episode looks at the historical origins of Krampus in the winter festivals of the Alpine region, challenging the false claim that this monster came from pagan tradition, and traces its renewed popularity across the globe.

History of Krampus

Zarka also acknowledges the modern resurgence of Krampus as a symbol of anti-consumerism.

Since the turn of the 21st century, Krampus events have become larger and more numerous across the globe. Whether this is due to a renewed interest in preserving traditional regional customs as globalization emerges, or a rebellious response to the over commodification and commercialization of Christmas—the death metal version of Santa is making a play to take back the winter holidays.

Krampus Postcard
Heavy Metal Krampus
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.