He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.
In Santa’s earlier incarnation, the jolly old elf brought something just as good as presents to your house. He brought along a demonic sidekick, Krampus.
Krampus carries with him a sack, to stuff naughty little children like you into, as well as the original rod of punishment. The rod is hazel wood and is believed to hold magical properties — it can ward off evil spirits, the Devil and protect one from lightning. There is even a legend associated with Mary and the infant Jesus taking refuge under a hazel bush during a violent thunder storm. Other legends depict witches beating lakes with a hazel rod in an effort to create thunder clouds, which materialize overhead and do their bidding.
The hazel rod was considered the great rod of life. With this phallic symbol, women and animals were beaten “with gusto” in hopes of them becoming fertile. It was also considered a wishing rod, used to find hidden treasure. Sometimes, a human countenance would be carved upon it. Indeed, it looks just as disturbing as it sounds.
In some countries, males don Krampus costumes and run wild through the streets whipping and punishing anyone and everyone they come across. While in Austraia and Bavaria he roams the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells.
Finally, on the night of St. Nicholas Eve, it’s Junior Judgement Day! Children polish their shoes, a representation of the soul, and set them on the hearth, along with a treat for St. Nicholas’ horse, or reindeer, depending on the country’s custom. Nicholas enters and fills the shoes with small gifts, perhaps a little orange, a golden walnut and a honey cake and reads aloud from his golden book, all of the child’s good deeds from the past year. However, if you were bad, Krampus is given leave to beat you, mercilessly, shove you in his sack and carry you promptly to Hell.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake!
You can also listen to the audio edition of this article on The Cabinet of Curiosities Podcast,
episode, He Sees You When You’re Sleeping