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December 05, 2006

Krampus night

Krampus1 We've arrived back in Austria after a brief sojourn back to the UK in the middle of the Krampus festival. It is a traditional part of the run-up to Christmas in this area of Austria and southern Germany.

Krampus is meant to be one of the companions of Saint Nicholas in the story believed in these parts. These companions are all meant to be a pretty unhappy bunch, but Krampus seems one of the worst - depicted looking like traditional images of the devil. Whilst Saint Nicholas leaves sweets and presents in the shoes of the good children, Krampus leaves sticks and stones in the shoes of children who have been bad.

We've heard varying tales about what happens. A couple of people have described the festivities as harmless fun to amuse the children, whilst other people have said they have had pretty bad experiences getting whacked by drunken young lads dressed up as Krampus carrying swatches of sticks with them in order to 'beat the badness' out of anyone they meet.

Krampus2 And the costumes look pretty grim and terrifying. We found a couple of sites on the internet with pictures of the Krampus events from around our area, and frankly they look pretty full-on to us. Unlike our candle-lit Easter ceremony in Chania, this might be one local custom we don't take part in, for fear ofbeing drummed out of the village as "the foreigners" by a bunch of cloven-hooved devils brandishing fire.

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I am so going to use Krampus (a kind of alternative to bagpus?) as a deterent for Mia and Aoife's bad behaviour in the run up to Christmas...

And I will tell them that Uncle Tomato introduced me to the cloven-hooved one.

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