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December 6th: Krampus & Nikolaus – An Austrian Tradition

Saint Nicolas (called Nikolaus in Austria) doesn’t visit Austrian homes on Christmas Eve, no he already arrives on the 6th December! But he doesn’t come alone! St. Nicolas is accompanied by his sidekick called Krampus. However, the two of them are the complete opposite of one another!
Whereas St. Nicolas is more like the perfect grandpa (always with a sweet smile on his face, big cosy belly and a full beard), Krampus is a strange and very frightening creature. Some say he looks like the devil, others say he looks half-man, half-animal with his horns, his dangerous teeth, his long red tongue and his thick fur made of goat hair (that’s why they aren’t only ugly, no they even smell bad).

Both come to visit to either punish or reward children for their behaviour. St. Nicolas traditionally gives well-behaved children chocolate, peanuts and tangerines, all packed in a cute red shoe. On the other hand, Krampus punishes naughty children by bringing nothing but black coal and a bunch of dark twigs.

Another tradition is the Krampus parade, the so called Perchtenlauf. Especially young men dress up as these frightening Krampus-devil figures, who wear ragged clothes and are covered in chains. They walk through the streets to show their costumes and to attack people who get in their way with dark birch twigs. It’s a super scary and actually pretty dangerous event because every year there are some excesses with people getting hurt.
No surprise it’s always observed by the police and sometimes even forbidden!

Come back tomorrow and check out our next blog posts and lean back to eat the chocolates you’ve received from St. Nicolas or to recover from Krampus’ punishment!

written by Sophie

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