What is the first thing that you think of when Christmas comes to mind? Fresh snow, hot chocolate, snuggling up by the fire with loved ones, terrifying monsters. Wait…did I say monsters?
Yes, i did. Monsters are exactly what Christmas brings if you are living in Bavaria. This tradition stems from the folklore of Krampus- the horned figure- who would beat children during Christmas who had misbehaved. I mean no disrespect to Bavaria, but this is the worst holiday tradition ever! Seriously, what is so festive about terrifying monsters chasing you, grabbing you and hitting you with sticks!? I don’t know about you, but I would way rather get coal in my stocking.
Every Christmas, Bavarian towns hold Krampuslauf ( Krampus runs) where hundreds of men dress up as Krampus’ and parade down the street. This is the exact event that I went to while living in Austria. The parade was very scary, but thankfully if I stayed at the back of the crowd I was out of reach from being beaten. Here is a video that my friend Jeanette took of the event as we hid in the crowd;
It was a very interesting experience but I was happy when it ended and I was unscathed. That is, until I found out that after the parade the Krampus’ run free!
Hearing this news, my friends and I quickly headed to train station to avoid the terrifying scene. On the way to the train we were on constant look out for a surprise attack from a Krampus. There were Krampus’ all around me and my heart was pounding as I tried to remain unseen. I could hear their dark sound of their bells ringing in every direction. Suddenly- a Krampus spotted us and headed straight for us!
Everyone screamed and jumped to hide behind each other. There were about ten of us all piled together pinned up against a wall. I was hiding at the back behind everyone. Through the cracks of people I could see the Krampus’ eyes as if he was hunting for something tasty…or perhaps the naughtiest person.
The Krampus reached for the first person, who screamed, but he threw them aside. He grabbed each person from the group and one-by-one he would throw them aside- slowly getting closer to me. Eventually it was just me standing alone against the wall, paralyzed with fear. Our eyes locked and it’s as if he could see my distress. He reached for me and I let out a blood curdling scream. Instead of tossing me to the side like the others, he kept his grip and started beating me as I screamed and tried to tear myself away.
Eventually I got away. I was in such a state of panic that I can’t even remember how I managed to get away. My guess is that the person inside the costume eventually took pity on me and my pathetic reaction.
I’m the type of person who can’t even watch horror films, never mind be in one. This was literally one of my worst nightmares come true- and all in the spirit of Christmas.