Demons banished from Vienna during creepy festival (VIDEO)
Around 4,000 people watched the performers, wearing traditional costumes of the Perchten and Krampus spirits, prance around the streets of the capital with bells and whips for the 'Run of the Perchten' ('Perchtenlauf') on Sunday.
“We are living our traditions here. We are not bad people, we are banishing evil spirits, we are Perchten,” performer Patrick Hubin said.
“That is an old tradition. It comes from the old alpine valleys. It is done to get rid of the bad winter-ghosts,” said fellow performer, Gerhard Mayrhofer. “On the other hand, it is also done to spread luck and fertility. It is said that, if a Percht is fondling with his tail over the shoulder of a female, it is bringing happiness and fertility.”
Traditionally, both the Krampus and the Perchten wear wooden masks and furs. However Perchten tend to carry a bell which they use to scare away spirits and are thus considered to bring good fortune to a house. Krampus, on the other hand, are evil themselves and punish people who have acted badly, using rods or whips.
The Krampus and Perchten folklore dates back to pagan times and is still exercised all over Austria and parts of southern Germany, but in recent years the festival has been criticised, as it has, at times, turned violent, with a number of female spectators being attacked.
Speaking about the violence, Mayrhofer said: “Unfortunately in the last few years it has happened – similarly to other events, like football – that there were bad guys and that there were violent attacks. But that happens very rarely, and unfortunately it is given great media attention.”