Thousands gathered to watch demon-like figures of German folklore – the Perchte and the Krampus – parade for the annual ‘Perchtenlauf’ (‘Run of the Perchten’) at the Prater fun fair in Vienna on Sunday.
Footage shows the creatures, with their wooden masks and fur costumes, interacting with the crowds and scaring and amusing the children. There was also an appearance from St Nicholas himself, the forerunner of Santa Claus.
“For us it’s purely a matter of making sure that we can drive out the winter well, and the evil spirits,” explained Kai Ginterseder, playing one of the Perchten. “And that’s exactly what we’re here for, with our devil masks, to make sure that everything is happening the way it’s supposed to be.”
Traditionally, the Perchten are considered a force for good, driving away bad spirits and the cold winter with their loud bells.
The Krampus, on the other hand, traditionally accompanied Santa on December 5, with the Saint rewarding good children and the creature punishing others.
“The tradition of Krampus […is] to scare the children if they have not been good,” said Silvana Carboni, playing a female Krampus.
The folklore figures, which have their roots in Pagan times, are primarily associated with Austria and parts of southern Germany.