>The 6th of December is St. Nicholas’ Day, and that means Krampus is out and about. The Krampus is actually a devil who accompanies the good saint on his rounds — good children get a nice present from Nicholas, and naughty children just might get a switching from the devil (which is the Alpine equivalent of a lump of coal in your stocking, and probably occurs just as often, meaning never.) On the evening of the 5th, some regions have a Krampuslauf, a sort of “running of the devils”, where at least a dozen of them show up with their giant cowbells, drums and smoke, and do a sort of pagan dance for the kids.
It is traditional that the Krampus figure wear some sort of animal pelts or straw, and carved wooden masks with real animal horns. Many of these masks have been passed down through generations, although these days one occasionally sees rubber store-bought masks, especially on the teenage devils who roam the streets looking for juvenile victims and pretty girls to bother. Although, in those suits with those oversized cowbells on their butts, it’s impossible to sneak up on anyone.
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