Holzknechtnockn is a traditional dish in the Holiday Region Dachstein Salzkammergut (photo: RudiKainPhotografie)

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Krampus masks and those who hide behind them

In many countries of the world masks are worn on certain occasions. For celebrations and religious celebrations, but also for meetings that concern the whole community, for example for the jurisdiction in some African village societies.

The mask transforms the wearer

The one who wears the mask feels "transformed". He is no longer himself, but lends his body, his voice, his spirit to another power. In the possession of a Krampus mask some become overconfident and dare to do a lot. Nowadays, however, most young people are concerned about the terrible, demon-like appearance of the masks.

Often mask wearers get into a kind of state of intoxication, without the "help" of alcohol and stimulants, but out of the feeling of playing a special role. African mask carvers have told a researcher:

"It is no coincidence which carver carves which mask. He dreams, and in the dream the mask appears to him and orders: "Do me, wear me".

The following photo gallery can be navigated with the arrow keys (left, right).

Each mask has a different benefit

In West Africa, for example, there are "judge masks" that appear in the village to settle disputes. Nobody should know who is under the mask. Other mask wearers have the task of playing events from the life of the dead, cheerful and serious, to the mourners. Many masks are embodiments of spirits that help man, but can also harm them. Also in Japan, masks for certain types are common in religious performances with music accompaniment. On the Indonesian island of Bali it's about the fight between good and evil, the good spirit has to defeat the evil witch.

 

The masks of the Dachstein Salzkammergut

The masks we wear in the Alpine countries are reminiscent of ancient winter and early spring customs and date back to pre-Christian times. In the Alps, rock paintings from the Bronze Age have been found showing human figures with strange headgear. This "headdress" is very similar to the masks of the Tyrolean "Schemenläufer" and "Perchtenspringer". Even the holy Bonifazius (7th century) complained about the winter noise parades and masks, which the Germanic tribes did not want to give up. What is the point of such parades? The people of ancient times tried to speed up the warming and lightening of the days in the cold winter.

The ugly masks, the "schiachen"(ugly) Perchten, were supposed to chase away evil spirits who hopefully were very afraid of the long teeth, horns and mouths of the wood larvae.

The evil spirits were chased away with the noise of bells and cowbells. But with the noise of the masks one also thought to wake up the frozen earth so that it would bear fruit again. With jumping, pounding and noise the mask wearers wanted to stamp the new life out of the earth.

Not all customs and traditions made it into the 20th century. But the custom of the Krampus mask carving and to show the same on various Krampus and Perchten runs stayed. More and more young boys and girls are interested in this custom.

Krampus parades in Bad Goisern, Hallstatt, Obertraun und Gosau

Krampus and Perchten at the Salzkammergut Krampus run
Bad Goisern am Hallstättersee

The Salzkammergut Krampus parade

On December 7, the market square in Goisern turns into a seething cauldron again: nice angels and Santa Claus meet at the legendary Salzkammergut Krampus parade on countless evil...
Date: 07.12.2019, 17:00 - 23:00
market square Bad Goisern
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