Krampus

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#31
There is however a swedish tradition for someone to dress up in a bad goat costume and scare people at christmas. It seems to have died out.
I am volunteering to do this!

er.... how does a bad goat present differently to a good goat? Do I have to eat people's shoes? take a dump on their lawns?
 

strainseir

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#35
The tradition isn't really specifically from Tyrol, but can be found in all parts of Austria and neighbouring countries, particularly around the Alps.

The Krampus is basically just a devil-like creature that arrives together with Saint Nikolaus. Saint Nikolaus will reward the good children, and the Krampus is responsible for punishing the bad children - up to carrying them off to hell in a basket he carries on his back for that purpose, if the kids have been particularly evil. Traditional images of the Krampus will therefore basically look very similar to other images of the devil, with red and black colours, a long tongue, goat horns, cloven feet and a long tail.

What you can see above in the video is typical especially for Austria, but it's a fairly modern version of the Krampus, which is a conflation of several things. I already mentioned the Krampus as the devillish counterpart to Saint Nikolaus, but the creatures you can see here are basically Perchten (to be more exact, Schiachperchten = "Ugly Perchten") which used to be a different tradition altogether originally. Also, in the past decade or so there has been a very strong influence on mask and costume design coming especially from fantasy movies like the Lord of the Rings and similar media. The traditional wooden Perchten masks were scary and strange for sure but not especially demon-like in a modern sense, although the use of animal furs, manes and horns for the costumes remain the same.

For a more traditional Krampus, here is a picture of a "Nikolaus baggie" showing one complete with the big basket for the bad children.
 

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IbisNibs

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#36
Some scary looking buggers here
Looks like a useful tradition to teach facing fear from an early age, fear of death and fear of the grim prospect of starvation in the midst of a long dark winter.
Also, in the past decade or so there has been a very strong influence on mask and costume design coming especially from fantasy movies like the Lord of the Rings and similar media.
This always bugs me. Homogenizes a creation that is otherwise full of vitality. Makes me think people don't really have much imagination, or rather, have forgotten they have an imagination.

Nice Wikipedia article on Perchten/Perchta: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perchta
 

strainseir

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#37
It certainly feels like the world is getting smaller as we lose parts of older traditions to homogenization.

You can still see some wonderful diversity in the Austrian traditions surrounding the Perchten and related beings though, where there are a bunch of quite weird creatures that might be particular to just one geographical area, while being totally unknown in others.

For example in some areas of Styria, a traditional part of the Krampus runs are the "Schab", whose name probably comes from an old German word for straw bundle. They look like huge walking bundles of straw with meter-long antennae, and they have whips that they crack to make a lot of noise. The Schab are not supposed to go near people's houses, let alone go inside, and they may even try to stay away from the light coming out of any windows and doors.

It's probably not very hard to see a connection to harvest-related work in this tradition, but the exact origins are unknown.

In the Rauris valley, there's the "Schnabelperchten", who look like old women with huge white beaks instead of a face, carrying brooms and oversized scissors and making low "gah gah gah" sounds as they go around. The tradition says that they check all the houses to see if everything is clean and tidy, and should they find any dirt in your home, they will cut open your belly with their huge scissors and sweep all the dirt and dust inside.

The idea behind this is probably related to the fact that the Rauris valley used to be one of the strongholds of European gold mining, and therefore always had a big population of male workers there to do all the hard mining and gold panning work. Lacking proper female supervision, they sometimes needed a not-so-gentle reminder to keep their abodes tidy, or else. That's the story anyways.
 
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#40
Isn't Krampus bad by default?
Only if you're on St Nicholas' naughty list, in which case Krampus will give you a whack with some birch twigs and a lump of coal instead of toys. In that sense, he does seem to display a rudimentary sense of justice and, if fear of Krampus served to keep some wayward children on the straight and narrow, I suppose that isn't a bad thing.
It's these latterday would-be Krampuses, who basically indulge in alcohol-fueled hedonism and violence, who give the hirsute, horned one such a bad name.
 
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