St. Nicholas and the Krampus

The Krampus with their carved masks and goat skins impress in the annual Krampus runs.

The actual Krampus Day is the 5th of December, but in the period between the end of November and St. Nicholas’ Day (6th of December) the Krampus are up to mischief in South Tyrol. But the “Tuifl” (in South Tyrolean dialect) are not real devils, but dreads, that date back to pre-Christian times. Nowadays the Krampus often accompanies St. Nicholas and plays the part for the naughty children. Elsewhere the Krampus run is celebrated with pyro-effects.

A Krampus is equipped with a wood-carved mask - especially the woodcarvers of the Valli di Tures and Aurina valleys are famous for this handicraft - and a goat skin, which often still exudes a very special odour. Bells are tied around the belly to make as much noise as possible and a tail or iron chain is also included. Since the Krampus sometimes showed themselves a bit too wild in their hustle and bustle, today everyone who takes part in the parade as a Krampus is registered and has to wear a number plate.

By the way: the oldest Krampus run in South Tyrol takes place in Dobbiaco (Toblach) in the upper Val Pusteria valley. Every year, more than 600 Krampus meet there and offer an unforgettable spectacle. In Stelvio (Stilfs) there is another tradition during the St. Nicholas period. It is called “Klosn”: there the young men dress up in colourful robes, put on scary masks and heavy bells. Then the show begins…

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