While there is certainly debate as to whether this holiday is appropriate for children, it continues to be celebrated throughout Bavaria, Austria, Central Europe, and beyond. In Klagenfurt, in Carinthia, the fire brigade complained that two of firefighters were set upon and beaten by a group of Krampuses, while in Salzburg last Sunday police were called out to deal with a number of drunken devils in the city centre. According to Peter Wiesflecker, a historian of Austrian culture and customs, the spike in the number of complaints can be explained by how the cult of the Krampus has evolved into a mass spectacle. Krampus is often portrayed with chains, another allusion to the Christian devil and the tradition of attempting to bind him. Some especially naughty kids are taken in a sack to Krampus's lair deep into the underworld. Krampus also carries bells to announce his coming. In Austria, however, the figure of the Krampus has been part of pre-Christmas folklore for centuries, with men in costumes roaming the streets to scare children and grownups from the end of November to the middle of December. Young and old dress up as Krampus, donning carved masks, big goat horns, furs and long hair, before taking over the streets on December 8 and December 22. The Krampus traditionally would punish or reward children based on the strict Christian “bad vs. good” moral model. Even smaller, more traditional Krampus associations have begun to enforce a codex that devil-impersonators are advised to follow. In the Alpine region, St. Nickolas Day is still celebrated on the 6th of December. The consumption of alcohol is forbidden until the mask is off. Fuelled by political support for distinctly Austrian folk customs, Krampus began to emancipate from his master in the late 20th century, and in recent years the appetite for large-scale “Krampus runs” has grown across Austria: at an event Salzburg on 23 November this year, about 1,000 goat-demons roamed the streets of the city. Let’s start with a visual. Attempts to impose order on the chaos by assigning each Krampus with a starting number and setting up barriers between the evil spirits and spectators have not always been successful. Salzburg's summer festival: a triumph over adversity or reckless folly? It is likely that Krampus emerged from Germanic pagan traditions, though his exact origin is unknown. This beast-like In its original form, Wiesflecker argues, Krampus was not so much a standalone devil figure but a domesticated sidekick of Sankt Nikolaus, the Father Christmas-like character who gifts German and Austrian children with presents on 6 December. In 2012, there was even a horror film released in the U.S. titled, Krampus, The Yule Lord. Goat-horned half-demons with scraggy coats of fur, lolling tongues and threatening bundles of birch branches are no one’s idea of a welcome guest on a winter’s night. This scary demon can frighten even adults, so be sure you are ready to meet Krampus! He comes with the darkness to catch and punish naughty kids. Krampus combines many Pagan figures and traditions. In the end, good always wins over evil.”, Available for everyone, funded by readers, Excitement and gratitude as festival in Austrian city goes ahead despite Covid-19, Country takes first steps towards normality but citizens still must abide by strict distancing measures, Ex-army officer charged with passing on military secrets to Moscow for at least 25 years, Revival of Austrian overnight network comes as Sweden considers service from Malmö to other continental cities. Culture Trip stands with Black Lives Matter. In the 1950s, the government distributed pamphlets titled "Krampus Is an Evil Man". An alcohol ban has also been difficult to enforce. “If large group of young men in masks roamed the streets on any other night of the year, the police would be called out in an instant,” said Wiesflecker. The annual Krampus run through the Christmas market in Munich is one of the most famous in the region. And while most of kids are waiting for the presents and sweets, some of them are scared of an evil, scary, devil-like figure called Krampus. Towards the end of the century, a popular resurgence of Krampus celebrations occurred and continues today. It is probably apparent that this creature is the utter antithesis to the beloved character of Santa Claus. This is a kind of Krampus parade, where they roam the streets and search for bad kids. Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that the handcarved wooden masks and elaborate costumes used in the Krampusläufe are far more terrifying. Sun 8 Dec 2019 05.18 EST. It occurs in early December from 3 to 5 p.m. Krampus may look scary, but actually they're quite harmless and the run brings a lot of fun. In Carinthia, police recorded a number of violent incidents this year in the run-up to the official “Krampus day” on 5 December, with one person being hit in the face with a birch and an 11-year-old child being left with bloody cut on their thigh. “Krampus is meant to make spectators’ skin crawl with his appearance and movement – not cause fear or even panic,” state the guidelines issued by the Krampus association in the municipality of Anif, in Salzburg state. In the 19th century, evil Krampus spirits began to accompany Sankt Nikolaus impersonators on home visits and would sometimes cross the threshold to scare children, but their anarchic energy was usually restrained and controlled by the benign man with the bushy white beard. For many reasons, the persona of Krampus could be described as schauriglustig, which roughly translates to mean ‘dreadfully comic.’ Krampus is often portrayed with chains, another allusion to the Christian devil and the tradition of attempting to bind him. However, due to his likeness to the Christian devil, Krampus was banned in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere, throughout much of the 20th century. ... the figure of the Krampus has been part of pre-Christmas folklore for centuries, with men in costumes roaming the … Krampus is a gangly, demonic anthropomorphic goat with a long tongue, fangs, and a set of pointed horns. There is even a “Krampus-free zone” where children can escape when they get too scared. A video of Thursday’s Krampus run in Sterzing in South Tyrol, on the Italian side of the border, shows spectators fleeing in panic as a group of devils start to beat and kick a person lying on the ground. In Schwoich in the Tyrol region, three Krampuses set their costumes on fire and suffered burns after accidentally setting off a box of fireworks. Saint Nicholas and Krampus, via Wiki Commons, While most cultures have warm and cozy traditions and motifs linked to the holiday season, something else has emerged from. Austria reopens small shops and parks as coronavirus lockdown is relaxed, Trial begins of retired Austrian colonel accused of spying for Russia, Brussels-Vienna night train returns as Europe eyes flying alternatives, Austria’s new coalition agrees to extend school headscarf ban, Austria’s Green party on verge of entering government, Austrian hotel owners drop 'Nazi grandpa' court case against guest, Austrian elections offer latest sign far right's rise is faltering in Europe. He comes with the darkness to catch and punish naughty kids. The Anif Krampuses, which wear traditional wooden masks with bells, are advised never to hit spectators with their bundles of birch branches and cows’ tails, but only lightly brush them. Yet in recent years the Krampus has developed to become an altogether very modern bogeyman, with a rising number of complaints about the demons acting in a drunkenly and disorderly fashion once they have donned their fearsome masks. No doubt, the introduction of Krampus into the equation creates a punishment-reward dynamic to the Christmas tradition of gift-giving. Visit by Saint Nicholas and Krampus, Image from 1896 | © Wiener Bilder. Police record rising violence and drunkenness in relation to traditional folkloric festivities, Sun 8 Dec 2019 10.18 GMT One of the most famous Runs takes place around the Christmas Market in Munich. Usually, these are young men dressed in scary costumes, with carved wooden masks, huge horns, and long hair. In the aftermath of the 1932 election in Austria, the Krampus tradition was prohibited by the Dollfuss regime under the Fatherland's Front (Vaterländische Front) and the Christian Social Party. “On the contrary: we want to take away their fear. © 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. Krampuskarten, holiday cards with the likeness of Krampus are also exchanged. “The aim of the Krampus is not to hurt people,” said Aleksander Andonov, who heads the Anif Krampus Association. Today, the story of Krampus is brought to life each year with the alcohol-fueled Krampusläufe, annual parades where people dress up in astonishingly vivid and frightening renditions of Krampus, as a means of scaring any ghosts from the village. If you are visiting Bavaria during the first week of December, try not to miss this centuries-old tradition called the Krampus Run. The latter portion of the folktale is said to be derived from the era of the Moorish raids in Europe, where people where people were kidnapped and sold into slavery. However, due to his likeness to the Christian devil, Krampus was banned in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere, throughout much of the 20th century. “In an anonymous collective, we are always more likely to overstep our boundaries.”. This beast-like demon with fur and goats' horns appears on the streets on the Eve of St. Nickolas Day. Historians also believe that the use of a birch stick for beating children is supposed to symbolize a phallus. In the town of Neumarkt in Lower Austria, a man dressed as a Percht, an Alpine pagan goddess, sustained severe neck injuries when a spectator yanked his mask by the horns. Quiapo Fiesta: Feast of the Black Nazarene, Spotting Wildlife at the National Park Bavarian Forest, Landshut Wedding (Landshuter Hochzeit) 1475. Last modified on Sun 8 Dec 2019 18.20 GMT. Indeed, getting paid a visit by Krampus after a year of misdoings is a lot more hardcore of a punishment than merely receiving coal in your stocking. In fact, instead of merely chasing the misbehaved youths with a stick, he is known to eat them, drown them, and transport them in a sack down to hell. All rights reserved. And while most of kids are waiting for the presents and sweets, some of them are scared of an evil, scary, devil-like figure called Krampus. While St. Nick brings gifts and joy, Krampus gives the bad kids a whip and horrible nightmares. He chases people — especially children — around with a switch. In Bavaria today, Krampus is a terrifying half goat, half demon creature sporting a leather or wood mask, thick furs, and haunting cowbells. In the Alpine region, St. Nickolas Day is still celebrated on the 6th of December.
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