Thursday, December 04, 2003

On our way home from Austria last week, Fred told me a strange story that our snowboarding instructor told to him. Apparently, they have a peculiar holiday tradition in Zell am See: people dress up in ghoulish monster costumes and parade through town. Some of them even wear these costumes and masks on the slopes and accost skiers to determine who has been naughty and who has been nice. When Fred told me about this, I thought surely he had misunderstood. Then today I saw this in the Stars and Stripes:

The Krampus are making their annual runs in the streets of Salzburg for the Advent season. These ugly horned creatures are modeled after St. Nicholas' companion, Krampus, who punishes wicked children on St. Nicholas day by beating them with twigs.

Naturally, I had to do a little googling to find out more about Krampus. Here's a picture I filched off of the Intersport Snow Festival website. This fellow makes the Grinch look like a big ol' yuletide pussycat:

Now isn't that just the sweetest tradition? Leave it to those zany Austrians to spice up the Christmas holiday. Eggnog and peppermint and presents . . . oh, yes, and ghastly beasts straight from the pits of hell. 'Tis the season!

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