Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Krampus .vs. Niklaus: The Big Fight

Well, there I was, sitting quietly at my desk this morning, minding my own business, when suddenly... BAM! Someone put a strange marzipan figure in front of me. "What the devil is that?", I exclaimed, because it did indeed look like a small devil. "Das ist KRAMPUS!" warned my assailant in a mysterious voice, before disappearing behind her desk with a puff of smoke.

"Come out from behind the table Sieglinde, I can see your feet. So, why is this on my desk?"

"On the 6th December, the good children are visited by Niklaus, and the bad by Krampus. You didn't bring me back any tea from England so you have been bad. Now you give me back my marzipan Krampus..."

"But you don't even like marzipan! Why do you want it back? I love marzipan, can I eat it?"

"I like to look at it. Here, have a chocolate Niklaus instead."

"I don't want chocolate. I want marzipan. I'm not doing any work until I get some marzipan!"

Christmas is ... different in Austria. On December 6th, children are visited by one of two characters; St. Niklaus or Krampus. Niklaus is pretty much Father Christmas, and gives out chocolate to the children who have been good. The Krampus looks like Satan and carries a sort-of whip made from sticks like a broom, and a bag of coal. Needless to say, the naughty children think twice about their misdemeanours... In past times it was basically an excuse for people to dress up, with Niklauses and Krampuses running around the streets of Austria on a drunken rampage. That tradition has sadly petered out as the winters get colder, and more emphasis is put on Weihnacht (Christmas Eve evening, when all the presents are opened).

Some more interesting stuff that I learned today...

  • The public holiday on 8th December celebrates the conception of Mary. Not Jesus, but Mary, which at first I found a little strange. But then I found out that the important thing was that she was conceived without "original sin"... now it makes sense.
  • New Year's Eve is called "Silvester". I'm not sure what this refers to, but I assume that it has to do with large quantities of alchohol and dancing, and very few black and white cats chasing yellow birds...


At 1:31 am GMT, Blogger carpet ministry said...

aaaaaaaggggghhhhhh the deceiver! i'm telliny jon, these heathens and their false idols will be the death of you. my personal voodoo consultant has forseeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnn it. it is too late for them, jon, save yourself

At 4:07 pm GMT, Anonymous Jay said...

Silvester Stallone??

This is most interesting to read...it's great that you're having a blast in Austria, learning all about their traditions etc. (a bit like how I got used to livinging in England) Tis a funny, challenging and strangely rewarding thing living in a foreign country...dont you think?

Anywayz, I reckon the Klaus devil to counter part Santa is Absolutely genius - they can have a one to one street fight and all! Whoah! How crazy cool is that?!

At 4:34 pm GMT, Blogger Jon said...

OK, not really sure what carpet ministry are on about, but gotta agree with Jay - it's incredibly interesting (and usually confusing) learning about a new culture - one of the main reasons why I have made this trip (it's not for the cheap beer, honest!).

My money's on Krampus to win in a fight with Niklaus, he's one scary-looking dude...


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