[Austria culture] Krampus in Austria

It’s always interesting to discover cultural differences between Asia and other continents, and Christmas is one of them. 2017 was the year that I first got introduced to what a real European Christmas looks like in Austria, now let me share this with you🤭.
There is NO Santa in Austria, but Krampus-a figure with long horns and birch stitches in hand ready to swat kids!

What countries celebrate krampus?

Krampus is commonly known in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic.

what is krampus

Who is Krampus

Krampus is a half-goat half-demon figure with long horns and birch stitches in his hand to swat naughty children and take them back to his lair.

krampus meaning

The name of krampus comes from the german word Krampen which means claw.

Austria Krampus Traditions

Krampus Night (05.12)

The night before 06.12 is called the Krampusnacht (Krampus night).

This is the day that gives Austrian kids the most fear. There will be people on street with masks, or even sticks, doing the Krampuslauf (Krampus run).

According to some locals, they said that earlier there really was a figure acting as krampus swatting kids on street, so when children hear the bells attached on Krampus’s stick ringing, it’s time to run. 

These are the Krampus figures in Hellbrunn Christmasmarket in Salzburg

What is the krampus run

Krampus run is a Christmas tradition that can still be seen today. You can also see it as a Krampus parade which people will be dressing in Krampus costumes, wielding their birch sticks and being all scary in this festive season, isn’t it cozy😏

Video for your reference 🤭

Saint Nicholas Day | Nikolaustag (06.12)

Nikolaustag austria

Instead of the red chubby man on the slay with Rudolph, Saint Nicholas is the most well-known character in many European and Eastern countries during the Christmas times which includes Austria.

In fact, Santa Claus is the mix between St. Nicholas and Father Christmas. Saint Nicholas is a bishop-like figure dressed in robes with a miter. 

what is saint nikolas

On 06.12 this morning, children will check the shoes they left outside the night before to see if they have been good or naughty this year (Yes, not socks but shoes).

Does krampus work with santa?

Yes, they do!

But as I said earlier, the “Santa” is not the one we usually recognize, but St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas doesn’t come alone, but with Krampus’s accompany, you can tell that you have been good by receiving peanuts, chocolates or mandarins; if you see sticks in your shoe…then you must have been naughty this year. 

(So on 05.12 this night children will be kind of busy, running away from krampus and leaving their shoes somewhere😂) 

krampus chocolate
Austria Krampus chocolate

Before St. Nicholas day, in supermarket or sweet shops you can always find Krampus chocolates next to St. Nicholas chocolates. We can tell that they are both important roles in Austria’s Christmas custom!

維也納 聖誕市集

Christmas Eve (24.12)

There are no Saint Nicholas, no Santa Claus, only “Christkind“. No friendly old man but a cute Christmas angel with blond hair and wings, known as the baby version of Jesus who brings children gift. 

The Christmas tree area should be clear, children-free. Since Christkind will not come if you try to see him! After the bell rings, it is the announcement that Christkind was here, then, you are familiar with rest of the job. 

Instead of the warm smiley figure that brings you gifts, I find Krampus this evil figure for Christmas more interesting. What do you think?

See also
Vienna Christmas market

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