I’ve been very bad this year: jaywalking across the highway, texting in the theater, ordering food five minutes before the restaurant shuts its door. What can I say? I’m hardcore.
There will be no candy canes in my stocking. No lumps of coal either, because what’s coming down my chimney is coming for me. Those aren’t jingle bells echoing down the fireplace. They’re chains.
Enter Krampus: the Christmas demon of European folklore, half goat, half demon, all fun hater. This matted monster has plagued my people ever since we stopped celebrating Krampusnacht. This year Krampus will be coming at me with a vengeance, double fisting birch bundles, with a burlap body bag hanging from his belt. So while everyone else is decking the halls I’m prepping my home for our annual showdown.
Know Your Opponent
Contrary to popular opinion Krampus is not Saint Nicholas’s shadow, nor is he the love child of Satan and the Greek God Pan. He’s the son of Hel the Norse Goddess of death, which means the rules governing that Pagan pantheon apply to him.
5) Use Psychological Warfare
Before Krampus rode shotgun with Santa, he was one of the Yule goats pulling the sled back when Thor was driving. You may have heard of the other two: Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. Krampus was the red headed stepchild of the herd. He was bipedal, which meant he always lagged behind. To make matters worse Thor didn’t pack a lunch when he traveled. He ate his goats and used the magic of his hammer Mjölnir to resurrect them when he was done. That’s right, Krampus has been through some shit. If you’re going to survive Christmas you’ll have to exploit that.
Krampus is going to circle your home, surveying the exits. So it’s important to trigger his PTSD every chance you get.
While your neighbors fill their lawns with nativity scenes you need to find some ice blocks and carve out Thor’s likeness: big, buff, and bearded. Oh and make sure you stage Mjölnir front and center.
Then get some hay and sculpt a trio of Yule goats by binding the needles with twine. Set them on their backs with red tinsel trailing out like entrails.
That ought to throw Krampus off his game.
4) The Home Alone method of Home Protection
If I’ve learned anything from Macaulay Culkin it’s that every point of entry in your home is a vulnerability. So ice up your front stoop, line your windowsills with broken ornaments, and rig a string-triggered blowtorch to your front door.
Still your real focus should be on your chimney. Long before the Common Era the fireplace has served as a portal to supernatural worlds. Witches, fairies, and goblins have all used it to gain entrance to your home. If you have a fireplace then that’s where you need to focus your attention.
Now before you start whittling your firewood down to splinters, consider this: Krampus has hooves. He’ll stomp out even the sharpest of spikes. That’s why I line the stones with a grid of copper wired into a fleet of car batteries. It won’t kill Krampus, but it’ll let him know you mean business.
3) Get into the “Spirit” of the Season
Santa can’t resist Milk and Cookies. Krampus can’t resist Schnapps: butterscotch, peppermint, or cinnamon. Pick your poison. While Schnapps breathes best in a jar, you’ll want to serve it in a 5-gallon water cooler. Impair Krampus’s motor functions with a good hearty offering.
2) Use Krampus’s Strengths Against Him
Krampus’s name comes from the German word Krampen, which means, “Claw,” and boy does he have a set of Freddy Kruegers on him. Not to worry, because those claws limit Krampus’s dexterity. Doorknobs, latches, and locks prove troubling for the ancient imp. If Krampus can’t kick it open, he can’t get in. Use that to put some distance between him and you when you…
1) Set a Krampus Trap
Before Krampus was tasked with smacking unruly brats his job was to scare the ghosts of winter back to Helheim. Little known fact: he still has to do that along the way. We’ll use that to set our trap.
You will need:
- A rug
- A plate of glass
- A stage light
- A room with a cellar door just beyond the entryway
- A Viking costume
- A gray wig/beard
- Old age makeup
- A cage with a gravity operated trap door
Open the cellar, position the cage on the stairs, and roll the rug over the trap. Position the glass pane at a 45-degree angle just past the trap. Set up the stage light to the left of the entryway. Use a blue gel for dramatic effect.
Apply your wrinkles, glue on your beard, and fit your wig beneath your helmet. The goal is to look like a Norseman who died, not heroically in battle, but dishonorably of old age.
Like all horned creatures Krampus can’t help but charge at things that make him see red. When you hear Krampus clip-clopping step under the stage light. Your reflection will appear on the glass looking like the ghost of a decrepit deserter who will never feast with Odin in the halls of Valhalla. Krampus will come at you full bore and that’s when he’ll fall into our trap.
Proper Krampus Disposal
Like many figures in the Pagan pantheon Krampus is governed by rules. His stay on this mortal plane is seasonal. Once the ball drops on New Years Eve then it’s back to Helheim he goes. So all you have to do is drag Krampus’s cage onto the porch, open the door and hit it with a broom.
Then it’s time to start prepping for next year.
NEXT: How to ward off the Kallikantzaros: the Greek Goblins who use the holidays as an excuse to take a break from sawing at the world tree to rise up and punish humanity.
Drew Chial is a writer who haunts the coffee shops of Minneapolis Minnesota. He’s been a board member of the Minneapolis Screenwriter’s Workshop and a script reader for the production company Werc Werk Works. He’s won the Short Story and Flash Fiction Society’s Flash Fiction Contest. His articles have been featured on Word Press’s Freshly Pressed page and RogerEbert.com. His short story ‘Grieving in Reverse’ was published in the collection Walking Hand and Hand into Extinction: Stories Inspired By True Detective. His latest novel He Has Many Names is out now from CLASH Books. He blogs about writing at drewchialauthor.com. Follow him on Twitter & Instagram @DrewChial where he shares disgustingly cute pics of his cat Nemo.