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13 October 2017

Austria Insight: Krampusse in the Salzburger valley Rauris are called 'Rauris Toifi', the 'Rauris Devils'

Each year on 5 December on occasion of the feast of Saint Nicholas (on 6 December), Krampusnight happens in Austria. It's celebrated spectacularly especially in alpine regions where community performances around the tradition of Krampus and Saint Nicholas happen on streets and inside houses.

'Krampus' is a pagan figure and can be described as a mixture of demon, witch dressed in goat fur with a wooden mask with horns and carrying a broom made of branches. The broom represents the cleaning mission of the figure which chases off the evil - but even punishes the ones who'd done evil or hadn't behave kind, before Saint Nicholas (Christian tradition) comes for bringing gifts to the children. Well, the Krampusse don't know who'd done evil - so they are whipping (symbolically!) all children. Last mentioned tradition caused negative reactions in cities like Vienna and some urged to ban Krampus totally from urban environments. At rural regions, circumstances are different and street performances can be overseen easily. Children don't fear Krampus when they know the story behind the performance.

At the Rauris valley in Salzburg, the companions of Saint Nicholas are named 'Rauris Toifi' ('Rauris Devils'). At the website, the tradition is described closer with depiction of the region-specific wooden mask. It's announced that at the weekends of 9/10 December and 16/17 December, wood carvers will create live new masks at the Advent markets at Rauris valley.

fig.: 'Brüllende Gestalten' (means translated 'Roaring Figures'). Photo: TVB Rauris / Florian Bachmeier.
The image shows four Rauris Toifi in fur coats and bells around the waists. The bells remind over-sized goat or cow bells and belong to the ritual of driving out demons. One of the toifi wears a wooden mask with horns. In their hands, they are holding brooms. The Krampusse accompany Saint Nicholas who is on view at the image as he just enters the house.

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