You may think: “What the hell can be so terrifying to title this article with the headline “Austria’s sheer horror”?”. Well, if you visit Austria in December or January you will get your answer. It’s the Perchts and Krampusse.

On the one hand we have the Perchts. A Percht is a creature with a cow- or steed-tail, a wooden-mask, a wooden-switch and, additionally to these things, also two horns. They only appear in the so-called “Rauhnächte”, very special nights of the year. In the earlier days you could describe these nights as the time between 21st December and Epiphany on 6th January. Nowadays most of the people call the 12 days between 25th December and 6th January the “Rauhnächte”. Another very important piece of equipment for Perchts is the bell. It is said that this bell should exorcise the evil spirits of winter. As I mentioned above, Perchts also carry a wood-switch with them. This utensil is also subject for a very important task. If you get hit with this switch, it won’t not hurt too much but will bring good luck and fertility.

On the other hand, we have the Krampus. A Krampus is a creature with a wooden-switch, rubber- or wooden-mask and two or more horns. In contrast to the Perchts, the Krampusse only appear on 5th December, side by side with St Nicholas. This man is an important figure who brings children presents on 6th December. Krampusse frighten children because of their scary and terrifying appearance.

So, if you are brave enough come and visit Austria in December or January. They are waiting for you…

by Mathias Fallmann