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In Pennsylvania Dutch communities, it is also a mythical being who visits children at Christmas time. If they have not been good, they will find coal and/or switches in their stockings. The Belsnickel was a scary creature not well loved except by parents wanting to keep their children in line.
Belsnickel is similar to Krampus in German-Austrian legend, except compared to Krampus, Belsnickel is rather benign. Belsnickel is a man wearing fur which covers his entire body, and he sometimes wears a mask with a long tongue. Krampus, on the other hand, is a demonic looking creature whose purpose is to scare children through his looks as well as his discipline techniques.