Image: St Nikolaus and Krampus pay a visit, Austrian newspaper, 1896.

Previously, I’ve written about February’s kinky little secret. But Lupercalia is not the only day of the year to have spanking connotations.

December the 6th is St Nicholas’ Day, which commemorates a 4th century Christian bishop, who was famed for giving secret gifts. This custom was ultimately to give rise to the idea of Santa Claus, whose name comes from the Dutch for St Nicholas: Sinterklaas.

But what’s really interesting are the characters that folklore has created to accompany St Nicholas on his morality travels. We all know the good saint rewards the children who’ve been good, but for every carrot there has to be a stick, and European folk tradition seems to have had no problems at all dreaming up terrifying stick wielders…

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A timely reminder of what happens to the naughty…