Santa's evil sidekick gives jolly fright to kids





As Christmas nears, Austrian children hoping for gifts from Santa Claus will also be watching warily for"Krampus", his horned and hairy sidekick.

In folklore, Krampus was a devil-like figure who drove away evil spirits during the Christian holiday season.

Traditionally, he appeared alongside Santa around December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, and the two are still part of festivities in many parts of central Europe.

But these traditions came under the spotlight in Austria this year, after reports last week that Santa -- also known as St Nicholas, Father Christmas or Kris Kringle -- had been banned from visiting kindergartens in Vienna because he scared some children.

Officials denied the reports, but said from now on only adults the children knew would be able to don Santa's bushy white beard and red habit to visit the schools. Now, a prominent Austrian child psychiatrist is arguing for a ban on Krampus, who still roams towns and villages in early December.



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