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German tradition of Krampus Night coming to American Fork

By Genelle Pugmire - | Dec 7, 2022

Christopher Droudt

Christopher Droudt dressed as Krampus with children at a Krampus Night event. Courtesy Christopher Droudt.

Children in the U.S. and throughout the world look to the day in December when Santa arrives with gifts.

Many of the Christmas traditions, like giving gifts, started in Germany — including Santa himself, Christmas trees, advent calendars, Christmas ornaments and tinsel.

One European tradition that leaves children uneasy is of Santa’s sidekick twin brother, Krampus. He first appeared on the scene in the 12th century as a half-goat, half-demon that takes care of the naughty children by, supposedly, devouring them.

Krampus is hairy, usually brown or black, has cloven hooves and horns of a goat. His long, pointed tongue rolls out and he is usually described with fangs. Krampus has also made its way to the United States and to Utah County.

Christopher Draudt started a group called “Krampus 801” with the intent of spreading the European Christmas tradition.

Michael Gruber, Associated Press

A participant wearing a traditional Krampus costume and a mask performs during a Krampus run in Hollabrunn, Austria, on Nov. 26, 2022.

“My father is German, and we have participated in German Christmas traditions since I was a child. I thought it would be fun to introduce them to the broader public,” Draudt said. “Our group has participated in several events over the last couple of years, but this will be our first solo event.”

The Krampus Night will take place at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the Towne Hub Theater on Main Street in American Fork. The cost is $5 per person.

“As part of the event, we will have storytelling and be learning more about some of the other unique Christmas characters around the world. We will also have mask-making materials for the kids as all are invited to march up and down Main Street at the end of the night,” Draudt said.

In Europe, Krampus will even go into children’s houses and scare them. During Krampus parades, held around the world, the demon walks up and down the streets with carts and burning torches while grabbing people’s hats or picking them out of the parade.

Many members of the Utah County group have put together elaborate costumes and masks in order to emulate that which has been done in Europe for centuries, according to Draudt.

In addition to the twisted festivities, the group is using the event to collect donations for Toys for Tots. This was actually one of the key factors for starting the group — to find a way to give back to the community, Draudt noted.

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