Krampus is not a muscle contraction that causes unpleasant pain, but Krampus does apparently inflict painful experiences or death to children who do not behave. This mythical creature has been a tool people have used to promote scare tactics in children. Krampus is in cahoots with Santa Claus. In some parts of the world, Santa has plural helpers called Krampi.
Krampus is depicted as an evil demon that has a long tail, horns, a long tongue, hooves, and carries a black bag or basket. As a child, I never heard of Krampus. Not until I picked up a random National Geographic magazine at the doctor's office had I ever heard of Krampus. This creature originated in Austria and is still very popular in Germany. Krampus is also related to fertility.
The Americanized Santa Claus does not have these helpers. In other parts of the world, Santa's group of Krampi would be considered similar to American Santa's elves, except for the obvious differences that elves are merry, very small, and gleefully make toys, while Krampi are large and terrifying. Usually, the Americanized helper elves will secretly watch children throughout the year and report good and bad behavior back to Santa. These behavior reports help Santa decide whether or not to give children gifts or not. Spying elves seem creepy.
Compared to what Krampi do, however, elves don't score as high on the creep-o-meter. Krampi warn and punish bad children (Wikipedia, 2010). They have the authority, per St. Nicolas, to take presents away from naughty children or, if they have misbehaved badly enough, Krampus will hurt them physically, lock them in chains, and stuff them in his black sack or basket and take them away. The children the Krampi determine are very bad will be whisked off for a not-so-special holiday in a dark, scary forest where they will live forever, tortured by the Krampi of the dark forest or possibly, be killed.
Krampus pre-dates Christianity. He is still feared by some Austrians today and is believed to be an ancient god (Seven Trees, 2008). Other pagan things have been incorporated into Christian holidays, and so has Krampus in his correlation with St. Nicholas. Remember all the while we thought those hooves were from Santa's cute, flying reindeer? It seems we were wrong! Those hooves are from the feet of the Krampi who travel with Santa.
So parents, from now on if the threat of receiving coal on Christmas no longer holds any fear, you may want to consider sharing the story of the demonic Krampus with your disobedient child. For extra effect, don't forget the furry costume complete with horns, long tongue, chains, black sack, and scary demon mask while you lurk outside the window some night to prove to your child that Krampi do, in fact, exist. Or you might try not being sadistic. Besides, in places where Krampus is still "celebrated", children have taken to dressing in black rags and chains, running through streets and terrorizing people. Some of them seem to have overcome their fear of the creature and have taken back the Yuletide and the night. The true origins of Christmas are pagan; this is one example of that fact.