Wednesday, 28. January 2015
05. 12. 13. - 14:00
By Maddy French
Feeling scared is not something most children would associate with Christmastime, but in early December an evil Christmas spirit called Krampus gives Austrian children a very good reason to be wary.
A figure from old Germanic folklore, Krampus is a side-kick of the generous present-giving St Nicholas. But rather than a cuddly reindeer or friendly elf, Krampus is not something children want to come across on a dark wintry evening. Sent by St Nicholas to punish naughty children, Krampus can normally be found sporting demonic horns or antlers on top of a gruesome, hairy and goat-like figure. In the first week of December he spends the nights scouring towns for children who he can catch and beat with branches from a birch tree, like a character straight out of a Brothers Grimm tale.
Although Krampusnacht formally lands on 5 December, when Krampus is said to accompany St Nicholas to households to reward good children and punish the naughty, processions of men dressed up in scary cloven-hoofed costumes through towns in Austria and other Alpine regions have been happening all week. As well as the obligatory frightening of children, Krampusnachts also usually involve copious amounts of drinking and debauchery for the adults and can carry on late into the night.
At various times in history, Krampus festivities have been met with controversy and protest. Unpopular with the Catholic Church, efforts to stamp out celebrations of the devil like goat figure were made in the Roman Catholic inquisition period. Later in the 20th Century, Krampus festivities were banned by Chancellor Dollfuss after the Austrian Civil War and as recent as 2006, an Austrian child psychologist argued the violence and demonic imagery associated with Krampus celebrations was not suitable for children and there should be a ban on Krampus.
Despite protestations, Krampus very much lives on but that doesn't mean it's all bad news for misbehaving children: an abundance of chocolate Krampus figures, sweets and cards in the shops around this time of year means there is still a chance for even the naughtiest of kids to get a treat.
First Images Of Eurovision Stage
These are the first images of the design for the Eurovision Song Contest stage unveiled in the Austrian capital Vienna which is the home of last year's winner Conchita Wurst.
Russian Mafia Boss Nabbed At Vienna Railway Station
A Russian mobster wanted for a string of brutal murders was arrested in the gentile Austrian capital Vienna when commandos swooped as he went to buy a train ticket.
Teen Girls Arrested After Offering Themselves To IS Fighters
Austrian officials who recently cracked down on terrorism by arresting several people believed to be recruiting and fundraising for ISIS have revealed two more teenage girls tried to leave the country to marry terrorist fighters.
Ebola's deadly reach impacts Vienna student
Austria has yet to record its first case of Ebola, but the feared virus has already had a severe impact on the lives of Africans living in Vienna.
Grigorij Sokolov Works His Magic At Vienna Konzerthaus
Whilst the world-famous Wizard of Oz played at the Volksoper, there was another Wizard in the Konzerthaus giving his 16th performance in Vienna!
Penelope Cruz To Play The Ice Cream Killer
The memoirs of the woman dubbed the Ice Cream Killer after she shot dead two ex-lovers before hacking the bodies up with a chainsaw and telling neighbours the noise was a new ice cream machine are due to be turned into a blockbuster with Penelope Cruz playing the lead role.
Kid Left In Coma After Beaten By Teacher For Talking
This is the shocking image of a little Chinese girl before and after she was punished by her teacher - for talking in class.
Freezing Rain Causes Chaos In Central Europe
Freezing weather has arrived in Europe with a vengeance with a layer of ice blanketing parts of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic and causing traffic chaos.
Holey Smoke As Car Disappears Down Sinkhole
Motorist Wei Hsiao found himself in a hole lot of trouble in China when a giant sinkhole opened up on the road beneath him, swallowing his entire car.
Shock Moment Police Helicopter Explodes On Street
This is the moment a police helicopter exploded into a spinning ball of flame in Chile when a fire truck clipped one of its rotors.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|Russian Mafia Boss Nabbed At Vienna Railway Station|
|First Images Of Eurovision Stage|
|Vigilantes Filmed Beating Woman For Talking To Man|
|Lorry Carrying Fireworks Explodes After Driver Lights Up Fag|
|Chinese Smoker Plunges Eight Floors And Survives Unharmed|
Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.
Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.