|Krampus is a bound devil who escorts the benevolent Saint
Nikolo on the eve of his day ~ Nikolo tests the children with
their Catechism and good behavior. If they pass he gives gifts
and treats. If they fail, Krampus is set loose to deal with these
bad children; worse than lumps of coal & rotten potatoes,
he may also use a switch of twigs to beat them and molests the
bad children in other ways... giving them a taste of Hell to come.
He comes disguised as the sinister farm hand or servant named
Ruprecht in Lutheran lands, because Martin Luther tried to squelch
demon superstitions... although his name still harkens to the running demons of the 12 wild nights of winter.
On the eve of Saint Nikolo's Day (December 5th) children are put
to bed and warned of their peril. They may avoid a direct visit
by leaving shoes outside the door. If they sleep soundly, they
will not have to deal with the test, and in the morning of St
Nikolo's Day (December 6th) they will find either treats &
small gifts in their shoes, or a switch, lump of coal, or rotten
potatoes. Parents are expected to use the switch on those children
so designated as having been really bad.
Luther tried to drop the belief in Saint Nikolo myth & invented another: the Christ child (Krist kindle ~ "Kris Kringle") who brings gifts on Christmas.
(Aren't you glad you did not grow up in Austria !?)