Krampus Ruten

So it’s nearly Christmas and you’re wondering what to get for the wife/kids… How about a home made, traditional symbol of Alpine Pagan origin reported to be wielded by a sinister creature of Austro-Bavarian folklore? Enter, Krampus – is he the harmless, yet impish sidekick to Saint Nicholas, or the cannibalistic terror of Germanic children throughout the millennia? You decide…


Evidently, Krampus is the new poster child for the holiday season. He is bang on trend, (much in the way that all of a sudden Polar Bears are a Christmas animal… this is a mystery to me… ) With a new film out, Krampus is the newest rediscovered folklore phenomenon. And as he’s trendier than oiling your beard whilst drinking a flat white, I’m totally jumping on this bandwagon…

Krampus is, depending on which Krampuskarten (Krampus card) you have been sent this year, is either a wench-ogling dirty old man, a child-drowning (and eating) kidnapper, or a pestilence to naughty children, chasing and whipping their behinds with his weapon of choice – the Birch Ruten! These bundles of birch twigs (pictured in the stamps and images above) are exchanged as christmas gifts in Austria. So I dragged my mate Nige out to our local heathland on our lunch break today, as we thought we’d make a few and show you how to do it!

“Bundles of Gold-painted birch are hung on the walls year round… as a reminder for children to be well-behaved… so they do not have to endure the wrath of Krampus.” – J.A. Galvan

The ruten below are made by bundling up thin twigs of freshly-cut birch and using a technique called ‘whipping’ (how appropriate!) to create a decorative, yet firm binding. I haven’t bothered to spray paint my ruten gold, as that’s, well, just a bit tacky, but I did make a few tiny ones to hang on my tree! Roll over the images below to see the stages…

Then, of course, you’ll need a cup of tea after all that hard work, so I cracked open the kelly kettle and christened my new hobo stove!

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