(KUTV) While good little girls and boys eagerly anticipate Christmas, naughty children are instead dreading Krampusnacht -- the night when Saint Nicholas' wicked counterpart Krampus comes to town.
Krampus is described as a half-goat, half-demon who is covered in hair, has cloven hooves and goat horns, and is frequently depicted as having fangs and a long, pointed tongue.
The hairy devil carries a bundle of birch branches to swat naughty children. Krampus sometimes even kidnaps misbehaving children to drown, eat, or transport to Hell.
Rooted in pre-Germanic paganism, Krampus did not become associated with St. Nicholas until the 17th century.
Now the two function in a yin-yang relationship and sometimes work together to reward and punish children.
Unlike North American versions of Santa Claus, St. Nicholas does not give naughty children coal. This responsibility is assigned to Krampus.
Krampusnacht (Krampus Night in German) takes place on Dec. 5, when Krampus visits homes and businesses to punish children who have misbehaved. Sometimes he and St. Nicholas work together, visiting homes to reward and punish children during the same visit.
Today Krampusnacht has become particularly popular throughout Germany, Austria, and even parts of the United States of America.
In many communities, the holiday has become an elaborate parade in which people walk through the streets dressed like Krampus and his little helpers.
A time-honored tradition, many Europeans exchange Krampuskarten (Krampus cards in German), which usually feature humorous poems, messages, and rhymes.
In recent years Krampus has become a popular figure in American media, being portrayed in television series such as The League, American Dad!, and the CW's Supernatural. In 2015 Universal Pictures released Krampus, a comedy horror film.