The other day I ran into Monte Beauchamp on the street. “Do you know about Krampus?” he asked.

Along with being an award-winning art director, Beauchamp is surely the foremost local authority on the Krampus. He’s even written a book on the subject: Krampus! The Devil of Christmas (Last Gasp).

So here’s the story of Krampus in Beauchamp’s own words:

In nineteenth-century Germany, legend had it that those who were pure of heart bore witness to the magic of Christmas Eve. Some saw rivers turn to wine. Others heard animals speak. Mountains supposedly opened, revealing precious gems deep within. Church bells clanged from the depths of an icy Baltic sea, and barren trees bloomed, bearing fruit on this cold December night.

Earlier that month, on St. Nikolaus Day, children of goodwill sprang from their beds and rushed to the empty shoe they’d placed outside the night before. Inside, they’d discover small gifts and treats left for them by St. Nikolaus, and joy would fill the air. Disobedient children, however, awoke to the shakes and the shivers. In their shoes awaited switches, with which their parents would spank them. Or worse yet, they’d be paid a visit by the Krampus.

In European folklore, the Krampus is Nikolaus’s dark servant—a hairy, horned, supernatural beast whose pointed ears and long, slithering tongue gave misbehavers the creeps!

The Krampus terrorized the bad until they promised to be good. Some he spanked. Others he whipped. And some he shackled, stuffed into his large wooden basket and carted away, then hurled into the flames of Hell!

Be good, kiddies!

Beauchamp’s Blab World anthology was featured in the Reader‘s local gift guide last year (it still makes a good gift). For this year I suggest something from the Krampus line, also published by Last Gasp.

Like Krampus playing cards:

Or Krampus stickers:

Related: On Fri 12/6, 6-10 PM, you can get your picture taken with the Krampus at Quimby’s, compliments of GlitterGuts, for Krampusnacht.