Friday, December 5, 2008
I quickly discovered that today is what I hope to be the creepiest holiday in Austria. (If it gets any creepier than this, I might have to come home.) Today is Krampus in Austria. Krampus is often depicted as a horned, shaggy, bestial, and demonic creature, complete with red skin, cloven hooves, and short horns. While St. Nicholas goes around rewarding the good children with nuts and fruit, Krampus runs around town carrying a switch with which he beats bad children. Some versions of Krampus carry chains and most have large belts with jangling metal and bells around their waists. It is absolutely terrifying. Groups of these Krampus creatures stampede around town scaring the living crap out of children. I saw one little girl screaming her head off and hiding after being charged by a Krampus. A friend of mine said when she was 6, a Krampus grabbed her, put her in a wagon and took her blocks away from her parents and dumped her there. Despite how terrifying it is, it is one of the most bizarre and exciting things I have seen in a long time. I have embedded a couple of videos so you can experience it for yourself. The first is a video of artist depictions of Krampus and the second is of the Krampus invasion of Graz last year.