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'Krampus' Christmas Decor Mistaken For Devil Worship

A resident explains the meaning behind her entry into the City of Murrieta Holiday Home Decorating Contest that was described by one viewer as disgusting and "disrespectful."

Krampus, a European folklore creature said to have helped St. Nicholas punish the naughty children, is displayed on this Murrieta, Calif. home. (Photo by Maggie Avants)
Krampus, a European folklore creature said to have helped St. Nicholas punish the naughty children, is displayed on this Murrieta, Calif. home. (Photo by Maggie Avants)

A warning might be appropriate for one of the stops on this year’s City of Murrieta Holiday Home Decorating Contest map.

At least one concerned parent would say so.

“As my family was driving the Murrieta house lights contest...we came up to house number 10,” wrote the concerned parent, who wished to remain anonymous. “I was appalled that the City of Murrieta would allow someone to enter a home with a theme representing the devil. My 3-year-old was frightened by the home and I was disgusted. I'm asking that you help make this disrespectful issue known to the residents of Murrieta.”

Murrieta resident Stori Nagel, credited with handmaking entry No. 10, said the monster perched on the second-story level of her family’s home at the end of Floral Creek Circle was meant to be educational. “Greetings From Krampus, XOXO,” reads a large sign installed next to the creature that is carrying a doll on his back and holding a broomstick in his gnarled hand.

Krampus is a mythical creature whose association with Christmas dates back centuries, an Internet search revealed. “Forget the Grinch and Scrooge – there’s an older, scarier Christmas villain,” wrote one website, Bizzaremag.com. “According to European legend, the Krampus was St Nikolaus’ servant who was sent to terrorise naughty children. If they were lucky they only got a beating but, if they were very, very bad, they’d be cast into flames.”

Nagel explained that in an attempt to instill some tradition in her and her husband’s three children—ages 15, 13 and 9—she first came across the legend of Krampus about six years ago. Her husband is German and Dutch and she is German and Swiss, and she was seeking to found out what their heritage’s holiday traditions were.

“Most Christmas traditions are German, like the Christmas tree and St. Nicholas,” Nagel said she rediscovered.

Then she ran across the European folklore surrounding Krampus, which attracted her because of her fascination with monsters that began in childhood. Because she developed too quickly and her parents did not have a lot of money, she said she identified with monsters such as Wolfman, who were often “misunderstood.”

“So how does Santa know if you have been good or bad?," Nagel said. "Well if you have been bad, Krampus comes to see you and hits you with a switch and if you are real bad he kidnaps you. So it is basically like a warning: ‘Be good or Krampus will come and see you.’”

Nagel believes that Krampus was “omitted (from contemporary traditions) because it was a little too scary.”

Further, she said she finally made the Krampus decoration this year to fulfill a promise to her children—and because one never knows how long they are going to live. There were no decorations at the Nagel home last year, because on Dec. 15, 2012, she had a radical double mastectomy after she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. 

“Any Tom, Dick or Harry can go to Walmart and buy some blowups and call it decorated,” Nagel said. “Everybody does that, and everybody is like ‘Santa Claus, Santa Claus.’ But they don’t know who he was before he came to the United States. He didn’t even look like he does now.”

As for her new Krampus display, she admits it is still a work in progress. She said her plans were to add a large scroll explaining his significance. 

“I can see where it would be alarming but the point is not to scare people,” Nagel said. “It’s to say that if you aren’t bad you don’t have anything to worry about. Kids get presents and they are bad and they don’t deserve it; there is no punishment any more.  And they get their iPad or whatever.”

Patch checked with the City of Murrieta to get its take on the decoration.

“The City’s annual Holiday Home Decorating Contest is an activity open to all Murrieta residents, and although this particular entry does not entail what many might consider traditional holiday themes, it appears to be a part of the family’s culture and heritage during the Yule tide,” said Lea Kolek, City of Murrieta Parks and Recreation manager. “As such, it is an unconventional entry to this year’s contest.”

There are 30 entries in the city contest this year, plus four neighborhood blocks. The entries were submitted via the city website, and then the city published a map. Through Dec. 19, it is asking residents to vote for their favorite entries in five categories: Best Block, Holiday Spirit, Best Use of Lights, Most Festive and Most Creative.

According to Kolek, the city is also aware that there are a few homes on this year’s list decorated in the “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme.

Laura December 18, 2013 at 11:47 AM
Kristin, talk about a sheep. Open mouth.........insert foot.
Laura December 18, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
cindylu December 18, 2013 at 11:51 AM
Laura: HAHAHA!!! RIGHT!!! Sorry I can't help myself "FACE PALM" Okay I'm going to HELL...jk LOL....
Aaron Powers December 18, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Wow, looks like ole' Krampus has started a holy war on the Murrieta Patch board.
cindylu December 18, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Aaron Powers: You can say that again LOL...
Sew Good December 18, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Kristen c- It's pretty funny that you assume Laura is liberal and that Chris F thinks with a brain. One of my kids was terrified at the idea of a fat man coming into our home through the chimney and did not want any tooth fairy coming into her room at night! I really don't see how Krampus is so different. Do you approve of Nightmare Before Christmas?
Laura December 18, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Thank you, Sew Good. I wasn't even going to go there.
kristin c December 18, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Sew good... Santa and the tooth fairy don't beat the children. Cindylu for one, kids don't go to hell if they'rebad. In fact kids don't go to hell. And the bible does not say if you have nothing nice to say don't say it at all. I have no problem learning other cultures. Id have no problem with krampys if he didn't beat children because they're bad. There's a difference between corporal punishment administeredby pparent and letting your child fear a beating from a monster. You like it and I don't. You want me to tolerate your opinions, then you should tolerate mine. I'm not the hypocrite here...
Sew Good December 18, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Kristin- Fear is fear. To a child, the fear of a monster is no different from the fear of a stranger coming into the home.
Mike December 18, 2013 at 06:56 PM
All this over some Christmas decorations?
Jason Wilson December 18, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Oh kristin c...lol. Let me take this bit by bit for you... YOU: "And as far as krampus "only punishes bad children" ... you think that's OK for your 6 year old to have his parents explain to him that concept and then lie in his little bed at night wondering if he's going to be attacked by this black devil because he's not sure if he did anything bad the whole year..." RESPONSE: Well, firstly...if it is MY 6 year old...I would have absolutely no problem telling them the story behind the display. Why instill ignorance in my own child? The funny thing about your remark there is that you find it bad to tell your child the truth...but, are completely at ease with lying to them that some strange man sneaks into your house at night and drops off presents? By the way...my children already know about Krampus. They have seen pictures before and I told them the folklore behind the character. They sleep very well at night, despite knowing the truth behind this mythical creature. I take it your children never watch anything that has a villain character in it? If so...do they lie in their beds all night worrying that that villain will come get them? YOU: "Jason, I think the point Chris was trying to make was that why during a time of peace and giving should thismonster be given aNY attention?" RESPONSE: Why shouldn't he? In all reality, he is as much a part of Christmas as St. Nick is. Why does he get omitted for you, just because he is ugly? If you are going to tell a story...tell the WHOLE store and not just the parts that please you. YOU: "I've read that one person thinks the parents are to blame if a child is afraid. That's ridiculous! Let me assure you, a child knows fear all on his own." RESPONSE: Actually, they don't...they learn what they are supposed to be afraid of from their parents and their surroundings. I have three wonderful, intelligent children and they have watched horror movies with me for years. My youngest (4 y/o), LOVES them and all my kids love to work at haunted houses with me. Other children their age, between 4 and 11, are terrified and shielded from these things because their parents insist they are "scary". YOU: "And Jason, Christians know Jesus wasn't born on Dec 25th.. that its a day in which we celebrate his birth because no date was actually given." RESPONSE: No...not all of them do. Hell, not many of them do actually. If they did, they would stop trying to pass Jesus off as "The reason for the season". Quite frankly...he has absolutely nothing to do with this season other that the fact the Christianity needed something to fill the space of a favored pagan celebration. That, and that alone, is the reason for the season. YOU: "Sew good... Santa and the tooth fairy don't beat the children. " RESPONSE: No? In the Dutch version of Santa Claus (Sinterklaas), "Santa" has aides that travel with him carrying jute bags and cane poles to catch the naughty children. The story of the "Tooth Fairy"...was originally that, if children did not burn their baby teeth, they would spend eternity looking for them in the afterlife.
Laura December 18, 2013 at 07:42 PM
Perfectly written, Jason. You sound like a wonderful father.
Vic December 18, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Nice research, Jason. But most won't acknowledge it. Why would you even THINK of spoiling Christmas with the facts??? Thanks for your open-mindedness.
cindylu December 19, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Kristin C ---> I didn't say the bible says if you have nothing good to say don't say anything at all... <---- Read before you post next time... I'm not the bible expert but as far as I know "THE BIBLE DOES NOT SPECIFY THAT HE IS ONLY REFERRING TO ADULTS BEING GOOD AND GOING TO HEAVEN AND IF YOU ARE BAD YOU WILL BURN IN ETERNAL FIRE" Or does it??? ;) Oh wait you do worship and teach your kids that God sent his son Jesus "TO BE CRUCIFIED ON A CROSS FOR OUR SINS"... Oooooo No-oooooo that's not being hypocritical at all (Sarcasm at its best) Never mind corporal punishment lets just instill what God did to "HIS SON" because he "LOVED US SO MUCH" I better not piss the Big Guy off (God) or he might decide to crucify me or make ME BURN IN ETERNAL HELL... Ohhh Yes I'm sure you would choose that over corporal punishment.... ;) ** I do apologise to those whom believe in God, but Ole' Ms. Kristine C just made me go there...**
cindylu December 19, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Kristin C: See you in church :-)
Theonewhodares December 19, 2013 at 02:12 AM
Stori- this is amazing, thanks for educating the public and for daring to go outside the lines. This community seems very unwelcoming to anything that is not traditionally "Christian". Good for you on educating the masses. It's not about being christian or not, it's about having the right to share what you want. In fact, I wrote a complaint about the large cross that has been erected to the north of our city- the one that is laid out across the foothills north of Clinton Keith. I believe that cross, on our hills, is akin to graffiti and had it been any other symbol, would have been removed (and I do not identify as non-christian). Anyone who used to have a "foothill view" now has a cross view, which will assuredly bring down housing costs. But my complaint to the city was ignored. However, someone complains about Krampus and multiple articles get written! It's funny what a biased community we live in. And sad.
Elizabeth Laird December 19, 2013 at 09:29 AM
Very ignorant closed minded people here. My Grandmother was German. I think this attitude is pre Nazi Germany. She came for the FREEDOM of SPEECH and RELIGION, which we are losing on a daily basis by the "in everybody else's business housewives, look down your nose, attitude here" Oma "Swidgched" us on a regular occasion, but not brutally. I raised my kids hand to butt, firmly, and strictly. I am happy to say I won the BIG battles. They are all GREAT and they have their own smart, well mannered, GREAT kids. Imagine that! Undergrad in psych and nursing and I never used that to analyze them! We cried together, we prayed together and WE WERE SCARED together.Far as I know, everybody is still doing just FINE..and YES I told them if they did not behave there would be no Christmas and I made them give up one thing each year for a family less fortunate.
TheOtherGuy December 19, 2013 at 09:51 AM
Here's a link to a slideshow of Krampus related festivities in Europe this week: http://news.yahoo.com/photos/the-christmas-season-is-krampus-time-1387457073-slideshow/ The tradition must be thousands of years old, no in my mind that it is even pre-Christian. It's fascinating when ancient practices persist.
Sara December 19, 2013 at 03:02 PM
After reading the story posted in regards to my concern of the home on floral creek I was quite puzzled how politics, religious backgrounds, and parenting skills came into play. I simply wrote the patch due to the fact that my husband A United States Marine one of his fellow Marines and my self felt this home was a cry for attention. In the description of the contest it clearly states "holiday lights" this home has nothing of the sort. Flood lights are not considered holiday lights and if this home owner would like to have made an educational statement she should have done her background research and properly represented the heritage of this creature unfortunately the home was poorly displayed and in my mind not in the guidelines of the contacts. This seems to be a more common problem in our society today people feel entitled to do and say unacceptable things and justify them by illnesses or conditions. Morals and respect have gone out the Window and people in fear of being accused of racism, discrimination, or stereotyping don't speak up on appropriate or offensive behaviors. it saddens me to see where our society is headed. Our children are filled with fear in their everyday life why must we purposely install more fear.  Stori Nagel stated she did this because of the way children are spoiled these days and the things they are given and then continue to comment about living everyday to the fullest because she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and you never know when it's going to be your last day. Why would any parents want the children to have more stress and fear installed into them it is our job as parents to protect and shelter our children as long as possible for the evils of the world and allow them to be children
B-Cat December 19, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Sara-I think Stori's position on this unusual but rather amusing and i believe educational view of another angle of Christmas is justified. As the contest is to be viewed as holiday lights and there is little illumination here I think it is fitting with the subject matter that colorful blinking lights would not convey the message they wish to express. It seems if there is light there must be the opposite, dark, or there is nothing to make comparisons to, but dark is as powerful as light in the same way therefore being equal the home is qualified to be in the contest. As you mentioned, we as parents shelter our kids as we must, but the stress that some have may be because we shelter and overprotect them a bit to much instead of explaining to them what they see has a reason for it being there whether we agree with it or not. Very famous words best describe it "The only thing we fear, is fear itself" In this day and age anything that dates back to medieval times or before can surely be explained sensibly. I am as guilty as any parent of wanting our kids to have the best childhood possible for as long as possible, but i ask myself, is that so i feel good?
cindylu December 20, 2013 at 01:31 AM
B-cat: Thank you for your post...I really wanted to reply to Ms. Sara's post but I think my post to Ole' Ms. Kristin C (whom made me goo there) has me on the naughty list ;)
Vic December 20, 2013 at 01:50 AM
@Sara, you think this home was a "cry for attention"??? This was a holiday lights contest. EVERYONE participating was crying for attention! Guess who won? Once again, the true spirit of Christmas shines through....(sarcasm font engaged)
John Kirk De Ritis December 20, 2013 at 07:16 AM
Fear of the unknown and judging with out knowledge of Christmas lore of other cultures We are a nation of many cultures Think before you speak
John Kirk De Ritis December 20, 2013 at 07:17 AM
Glad to see you win too
Laura December 20, 2013 at 11:32 AM
To Chris and Kristin: Shhhhhhh. Did you hear that? That was the WHOLE city shouting..... KRAMPUS IS THE MOST CREATIVE. (bet you thought it was Krampus coming into your house. I can understand why you were scared. But it's just a story, I assure you.) Congratulations, Stori and thank you for standing your ground. I hope you felt like you had a whole army standing behind you on this one. Merry Christmas!
Sara December 20, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Laura the only reason the krampus home got most creative is because of the negative publicity. there's nothing creative about the home and its sad that people went out of their way to vote for home just because it was being questions. But then again look at world is going. Laura also good job acting like an adult about the situation. I hope do understand that what you're doing to chris and kristin is instagetting. fyi my 9 and 3 year olds do the same thing
Laura December 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Sara- Don't assume you know why other people do things. Your time might be better spent on your grammar.
southernbelle December 21, 2013 at 01:37 PM
never heard of Krampus, so I just read this. This is where it went bad for me, personally: “According to European legend, the Krampus was St Nikolaus’ servant who was sent to terrorise naughty children. If they were lucky they only got a beating but, if they were very, very bad, they’d be cast into flames.” bleeeeech!!!! Isn't Halloween over?! WHy would I want my children to think that some creature was going to come BEAT them??? Sorry, I'll not entertain my family with this one--Christmas is a joyful, non-threatening, season full of GRACE and LOVE for us. Like they say--if you don't like it, don't be a part of it. *Excuses self and walks out* have fun with this---creepy.
B-Cat December 21, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Sara, yes you are correct about the negative publicity but to add to that thought I feel that the negative reaction by the original complainer sent out a message that the people that voted for Krampus wanted to say to her and did by voting. The message I think is that there is a diverse world out there and the kids are going to be out there one day and without you. It also says that the perfect little world you wish would never go away, will unfortunately. I support both views even though that seems improbable, One is as i just described about diversity and acceptance of creative thought, and the other the safety and wholesomeness of living here in the shire of Murrieta. I live here too and like it so it would be hypocritical of me to want to alter that to much [quite a dilemma huh?]. Not to worry to much over Mr. Krampus as good always triumphs over evil eventually.
Laura December 23, 2013 at 11:48 AM
I believe Sara claimed starting the negative publicity. Hope you liked the outcome, Sara- good always triumphs over evil, eventually.

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