Nothing puts you in the holiday spirit quite like a terrifying, masked, Krampus devil-creature, right?
Our last day with the Heins was spent shivering (due to cold and fear) in anticipation of the annual Krampuslauf in Igls. A combination of information obtained from local Tiroleans and wikipedia tells us that the Krampus is Saint Nicholas' evil companion. Traditionally of Germanic folklore, the Krampus influence has spread far beyond German borders.
The evening started well. Warm drinks in hand, we watched as Saint Nicholas read a Christmas story to the children and gave each a gift for being good. It was super cute to see the kiddos excitedly line up and wait for their present.
Suddenly smoke filled the air, Krampus began fighting at center stage, and before we knew it... Krampuslauf. ACDC's "Highway to Hell" was blaring over the speakers and they were everywhere. The head Krampus was riding through the street on a fiery chariot pulled by his Krampus minions. Others stomped through the crowd carrying branches and big bells, frightening unassuming little kids and parents alike. Rumor has it, children on the "Naughty List" are carried away by the Krampus, never to be seen again. Makes a lump of coal in your stocking not look too shabby, huh?
The freezing temperatures were worth this unique outing. I mean, when else can you say you visited a little mountain village in the Austrian alps and experienced an annual tradition such as this?