Thursday, November 15, 2012


I have been terrified of seeing Krampus since I first heard about it. I've already seen Krampus cards and Krampus gingerbread around Bischofshofen, but tonight was my first sighting. I was sitting in a restaurant with two other TAs and we saw two pass by just as we finished eating. I panicked a little bit, but figured it would be fine. The two Krampusse (This is the plural that I found. Please correct if wrong!) had walked by going in the opposite direction of where I live. However, a little bit later, more Krampusse walked by, at least five, if not more! I was really panicking now, but the procession had seemed to pass and the other TAs and I could make our way back to the train station safely so I could see them off to their villages. There was a Krampus in front of us, but we crossed the street to avoid it. Then they ended up behind us making a lot of noise, but they didn't chase us. They seemed to be more interested in all the children galloping about. I was a little scared to walk home by myself from the train station, in case I encountered one alone. Luckily, I didn't see any on the way home. They seem to make a lot of noise, so I am hoping they don't normally sneak up on people. Either way, I'll be looking over my shoulder a lot when walking home at night for the next month! Or I might avoid going out after dark completely!

For those who don’t know what Krampus is, let me explain. Krampus is a mythical creature that is the alpine version of getting coal for Christmas, but a million times more terrifying (OR: a lot creepier). It is the antithesis of St. Nicolas who comes and brings gifts. Krampus takes all the naughty children and stuffs them in its bag and hauls them away to the mountains. Every year, the day before the Feast of St. Nicolas on December 6th, there is something known as Krampuslauf. This is a parade of all the Krampusse around the town. Young men dress up as Krampus and wear elaborate costumes with fur, claws, and scary masks. They chase people, especially women and children (so I've heard), and whip them with tree branches.

In a small alpine village, this begins in mid-November and lasts until Christmas! I've heard that in these villages, the Krampuslauf is pretty crazy, and Krampus will be out and about practically every night. There is a Krampuslauf in Salzburg, but it's pretty tame and touristy. In the villages, like where I am, anything goes! My students and others have told me that I will probably end up bruised after Krampuslauf. We'll just see how the rest of this month goes with Krampus everywhere.

For more information, visit the Krampus Wikipedia page. 

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