Run with the Krampus

17.04.2019

As we are looking forward to the first weekend of Advent ushering in the holiday season, Halloween is not far behind us. Making sure the dark scary is close and real, are the Krampus and his Perchten, ready to punish misbehaving children who did not qualify for the gifts of Saint Nicholas (get your shoes all clean, December 6th is St. Nicholas day). It makes Santa and his coals look pretty harmless compared to a whopping from the Krampus. According to one Austrian legend, the Krampus has a 12-inch long tongue that he uses to lick naughty children, beats them and carries them off in his sack.

The Krampus shows up mainly in the Alpine folklore, he is always hairy and wearing grotesque facial expressions rendered by expertly carved wooden masks and he always has chains or whips on him. He is almost always in the company of the daemonic Perchten, who are very old mythical figures that go back to pre-Christian times. The idea behind it is to scare the bad spirits of winter away so that they would give us back the sunlight. This has always worked throughout centuries since about two weeks after the Krampus day (on December 5th) there comes the winter solstice and the days get longer again. The masks are elaborate works of art and usually cost a few hundred euros. There are only a few craftsmen left who know how to render pure horror into wood.

The Krampuslauf (running with the Krampus) is a celebrated event in all of Austria and the entire Alps region. The Krampus walks through the crowds "punishing" a curious spectator here and there who stands too close for his own good. This is usually accompanied by plenty of alcohol and it's not unusual for real fights to develop with this background of lashing and chains rattling. However, there is no reason to be alarmed if you are only a tourist, fights usually involve locals who know exactly who they are beating up and what for. Needless to say that police are usually weary of such events. Children and grownups alike enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes from being chased by the Krampus all up and down the street.

There are Krampus runs in all of Austria, each region, town and village with its own specific customs. Mariazell, be it as holy as it may, has its own Krampuslauf, every year during the Advent season. So join us for the scariest night before Christmas, that might look something like this:

Krampuslauf 2012

Courtesy of Mariazellerland Blog

You may like also

Advent is a special time that we look forward to every year, almost more than the actual Christmas. It is a time of reflection, of standing still, even if for a moment, to take in the beauty of the season. The days are shorter and the nights filled with...

From the finest home grown beef of one of the best Jeunes Restaurateurs in Austria, tucked away in the middle of the forest, to the best trout straight from its habitat in the most charming cottage setting, to century old houses in the center of Mariazell...

There is something about a November hike that is both peaceful and mysterious. Nature has already settled into the long winter nap, there are no birds chirping in the woods. On a crisp clear day mists rise like thick cotton clouds over the valleys, revealing...

Nowhere else in Austria are there as many fans of Austrian curling, Eisstockschießen, as there are in Styria: in more than 600 clubs there are over 40,000 members of all ages. It is deeply ingrained into the customs of the land, as the 1931 Mürzzuschlag...

Around here hiking is not only a summer activity. When winter has tricked you and there is no proper snow to ski on, there are still corners of the Mariazellerland to explore. This particular hike starts right at the edge of Mitterbach and takes you as...

This is Austria, you can ski pretty much anywhere. There are famous resorts like Kitzbuehl or St. Anton or Schladming, but how about Mariazell?Sure the 1250 meters will not impress much in terms of mountain height, you've seen bigger, grander, Swisser.But...