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Ancient legend meant to scare children at Christmas now helps them

The Ohio Krampus Society raises money for kids' causes by educating people about Alpine folk traditions.

HUDSON, Ohio — The sounds of sleigh bells can really put you in the Christmas spirit, but if you hear the loud clank of a goatherder's bell, know that Krampus is near. The horned, hairy beast works for Saint Nicholas.

"He uses him to punish bad children, while Saint Nicholas rewards good children," Ed Sutera with the Ohio Krampus Society explained.

Krampus may look devilish, but he's the stuff of ancient Germanic legend, used to scare away bad spirits ensuring a mild Winter.

Before Christmas became so commercial, the Krampus legend was used to keep kids in line. Like it or not, throughout history, fear has always been a great motivator.

"There's nothing demonic about it or anything," Sutera said. "It's just a creature bound to the Saint to do his bidding."

Credit: Carl Bachtel

The hand-carved, wooden masks the Ohio Krampus Society dons are from Austria, where Krampus festivals really rock. There are Krampus runs where people play the role to a tee, being mischievous and annoying to parade goers.

Here, reactions vary, but it's all for a good cause.

"Every year, we focus on giving back to a local charity, usually to help children," Sutera told 3News.

They attend holiday events all across Ohio, taking pictures with fans and raising money for non-profits. This year, it's Piper's Key, which gifts inclusive books to children with disabilities that represent their unique selves in a positive light. 

So, have you been naughty or nice?

Don't worry, Saint Nicholas and Krampus will sort it out.

"It's to teach a lesson about being good and their are consequences when you're not good," Sutera says of the legend.

That goes for kids of ALL ages.

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