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December 12, 2022

St. Nicholas’ Day Celebrations in Austria, 1934

This charming short video is said to be from 1934, and shows a visit by St. Nicholas to a household with a cadre of Krampuses.

Saint Nicholas with his long white beard, bishop’s miter and crosier rewards the well-behaved with gifts each year on December 6th. His scary counterpart Krampus wears fur, horns and a hand-carved mask with a lolling tongue. During the Christmas season, he comes to warn and punish naughty children (and adults).

During the first week of December, particularly on the evening of December 5th, the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, Krampus troupes roam the streets frightening with rusty chains and bells or visit houses and inns with St. Nicholas.

There are many names for Krampus, as well as different regional variations in portrayal and celebration. As with the distinct dialects and traditional costumes that characterize nearby valley communities, the historic obstacles involved in traversing the Alps focused and preserved Krampus customs in their highly localized form. This regionalism, affects every aspect of alpine folklore of the Krampus and saint Nicholas.

Hand-carved, wooden masks, heavy and elaborate dresses made of lamb- and goat skin or fur and traditional willow or birch branches brandished as weapons are common futures. Although he is “officially” the servant of Nikolaus, during the Krampuslauf – Krampusnight, often the wild hunt can parade trough villages and towns, without the saint, to dictate them.

1 comment:

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