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SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - NOVEMBER 28: Participants dressed as the Krampus creature walk the streets in search of delinquent children during a Krampus run on November 28, 2015 in Salzburg, Austria. Hundreds of Krampuses participated this year in the event organized by a local Krampus association. Krampus, also called Tuifl or Perchten, is a demon-like creature represented by a fearsome, hand-carved wooden mask with animal horns, a suit made from sheep or goat skin and large cow bells attached to the waist that the wearer rings by running or shaking his hips up and down. Krampus has been a part of Central European alpine folklore going back at least a millennium, and since the 17th-century Krampus traditionally accompanies St. Nicholas and angels on the evening of December 5 to visit households to reward children that have been good while reprimanding those who have not. However, in the last few decades the western Austrian region of Tyrol in particular has seen the founding of numerous village Krampus associations with up to 100 members each and who parade without St. Nicholas at Krampus events throughout November and early December. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

When you think of Christmas, you most likely associate the holiday with a white-haired man who gives you presents. If you happen to live in the Tyrol region of Austria, you may associate a demonic figure with the well-known day. Krampus is a is the devil who accompanies Santa.

The folktale creature is said to beat naughty children with birch twigs. Those children will be “stuffed into Krampus’ sack and hauled off to his lair to be tortured or eaten” notes Smithsonian Magazine. Pretty brutal, right?!

 

Well, if that tale isn’t frightening enough, there’s a whole festival dedicated to the frightening Krampus. During the celebration, folks of the town dress up like the mythological creature and attempt to scare onlookers. According to the HuffPost, costumes are “often made of sheep or goat skin, and [have] large cowbells attached to the waist.”

 

Even though the festival may be associated with Christmas, the Krampus legend goes back to “pre-Germanic paganism in the region” says Smithsonian Magazine. The historic site also notes that his name means, “claw” and is the son of a Norse God of the underworld. Well, that background would definitely make sense why he is so evil! If you were the song of the Norse God of the underworld, you would be pretty mean too.

 

Since the Alpine town has a high number of Syrian and Afghanistan refugees, townspeople have to inform them of their upcoming tradition. Before the parade, community members let them know “what to expect when St. Nicholas and the Krampus creatures knock on their door,” states social worker Nicole Kranebitter told NBC News. Those who understand the situation join in on the festivities and state they had “lots of fun”.

There’s no better way to get into the spirit than a demonic entity!

 

Sarah is a Hufflepuff living in NYC. When she is not traveling or talking to random animals, she is working as a script writer. Tweet her at @lumpyspacederp