Saturday, November 17, 2007
Well, now we know why Austrians don't celebrate Halloween... they've got Krampus parades!
Krampus is the satanic companion of St. Nicholas (yes, Santa Claus). You can read more about Krampus here. On December 5, Krampus-Spiele will be played out all over Austria. Actors playing St. Nicholas and Krampus will visit children in their homes, and ask them if they know how to pray. St. Nick will reward children who pray with a satsuma. If they can't demonstrate that they can pray, Krampus will pound their toes with a hammer. This used to happen at Krampus parades, but there were so many injuries that now they just whip bystanders with horsehair whips. Sounds like some sort of hold-over Roman ritual to me!
At the Krampus parade this evening, there were over 400 people dressed in Krampus costumes (plus a few St. Nicks and angels). Somes "krewes" had floats like the one above, and it was pretty much like a Rammstein concert (or like I imagine a Rammstein concert would be!) with music, smoke, and pyrotechnic effects. The masks are amazing, and most of the costumes are embellished with giant bells on their back sides and chains. The basket is, I think, also for naughty boys and girls.
At the end of the parade, there was a fireworks show (I LOVE fireworks), then Rob and I walked back to Irdning via the Gallows Path. Next week there's a Krampus parade in Schladming and we're getting a group of people together to go. As Rob said, "That's probably the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life!"