Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 4: Austria Krampus

It’s Day 4 of our Advent calendar and it’s an exciting time for many young children in Austria (and Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary…) these days, which is why we are heading to Vienna to meet the Krampus! Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here.


Krampus is the scary looking companion of the Turkish bishop Saint Nicholas. On the night of 5 December, Krampus visits homes and businesses looking for naughty children, carrying a bunch of birch twigs and a large bag, ready to punish those who have been misbehaving and don’t deserve presents from Saint Nicholas. The tradition is originally Austrian, but spread to many other European regions under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Krampus is believed to represent the devil, chained by the Christian church, and he is often portrayed carrying large chains which he likes to rattle menacingly. Traditionally Krampus has horns, sharp teeth and claws but recently he has also been given a more cuddly appearance. However, appearances can deceive so make sure to behave or Krampus may just stuff you in his bag and carry you away.

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Vienna Marco Polo Guide

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