Social media has anointed Krampus as the queer icon of the holidays. For the uninitiated — or those who haven’t seen the 2015 horror film Krampus — this mythological figure is “a half-goat, half-demon, horrific beast who literally beats people into being nice and not naughty,” as National Geographic puts it.
Marked by horns, fangs, a devilishly long tongue, Krampus carries around birch rods with which he swats the misbehaving. For centuries in parts of Germany and Austria, Krampus has been positioned as the anti-Santa, a menace who carts naughty kids down to the underworld when he shows up on Krampusnacht, the night of December 5.
In this century, however, Krampus has become a pop-culture fixation. Bowen Yang played the demon on SNL and in a 2019 blog post for Gayly Dreadful, Stephan Hoda presented the case for Krampus as a queer icon.