Friday, January 4, 2013

A True Tale of Krampus Youth from Bad Goisern, Austria

To extend the holiday cheer, I am very excited to share with you this tale of growing up with the Krampus tradition, just in from Austrian Morbid Anatomy reader Julia Atzmanstorfer:
Hello from Austria, 
I recently noted that you post much about Krampus - which is a very vivid tradition in the region where I live. Here in Bad Goisern/Upper Austria we have one of the biggest Krampus events in the country; hundreds of Krampusses come there to meet and run every December.

I just asked myself if you know that this old tradition has nothing to do with Christmas itself - as a important part of Advent and takes place on the 5th of December, the evening of St. Nikolaus. Krampus is the companion of St. Nikolaus (an old, rather kindhearted, but also rigorous man who visits the children), and he has the role of punishing those, who have been bad through the year, by hitting them with his birch (in former times children were also told that the Krampus would take them with him). 
These guys are really, really scary when you are a child... Their shaggy skins, their wooden masks (which are often handed down from generation to generation and nowadays also more and more orientated in modern splatter movies) and their cow bells around the ankles... the very sound of them is really threatening when they are coming nearer! 
Behind the Krampus mask there is always a young man, never a girl or a woman - and the whole custom of course also has a certain archaic sexual connotation, because the Krampusses hidden behind their masks also catch girls to hit them. When I was around 16, 17, it was always very exciting to participate in the Krampuslauf as a spectator - when you are a teenager, you hope that one of them gets you... 
Anyway. Perhaps you know all this. Just in case you did not yet, I thought you might find it interesting. 
Merry Christmas!
Thanks so much, Julia, for sending this along!

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