Krampus is basically a devil of sorts. His name is derived from old High German krampen, which means 'claw'. He is related to the Perchten, followers of Perchta, an old goddess.He is depicted as your basic devil with horns and fur, but his images range from a little imp to a big-ass demon. He is by turns mischevious and imposing. He is said to follow his buddy St. Nicholas around in December, usually on December 5th in the evening, and while Nick gives the good kids presents, Krampus may give them a bundle of sticks, or spank them with the sticks, or even carry them off to some other fate, depending on who you talk to. There are lots of old postcards showing Krampus doing acts that range from prankish to downright demonic.
In Austria,during December, groups of men dressed as Krampus/Perchten walk around town, giving spankings to people, especially pretty women. I don't know about you, but dressing up as a horned beast and spanking women sounds like a lot more fun than caroling and drinking egg nog...the Europeans definately have better holiday traditions than us, let me tell you.
I found the whole Krampus thing interesting and a bit funny. Here's a saint and a devil, running around during the holidays, like some weird buddy-cop movie or something. Anyway, enjoy the pictures, and I'll have more later.