Hotel Tarvis Meublè Tarvisio - Krampus

The Krampus

The Krampus are today linked to the tradition of San Nicolò, which is traditionally celebrated on the evening of December 5th. The ritual, typical of several countries in the Alps (Sudtirol, Friuli, Austria, Switzerland but also Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic), is centered on the parade through the streets of the town ofSan Nicolò. In Friuli, the tradition is widespread in the Val Canale: in the area of Tarvisiano, Ugovizza, Malborghetto and Pontebba.

San Nicolò, with a thick white beard, accompanied by angels, distributes sweets to the little ones and the good ones. Angry devils follow him: the krampus in search of evil children. As soon as the sun sets, San Nicolò disappears leaving the population at the mercy of the devils, who chasing people everywhere.

he Krampus have scary masks; their clothes are worn and dirty. As they wander through the night they make grim noises, made by cowbells or horns. There are also “female” Krampus (the Krampas) also, however, personified by men. There are several rules to be followed in order to become part of a “Krampus Group”, among the main ones, that of never taking off your mask in public. The Krampus have scary masks; their clothes are tattered and dirty. While wandering in the night, they make gloomy noises from cowbells or horns. There are also ‘female’ Krampus (the Krampa) who are also, however, impersonated by men. There are several rules for joining a ‘Krampus group’, one of the main ones being never to take off your mask in public.

There are several legends about the birth of this tradition.

One of these recounts that in times of famine, boys from mountain villages, having disguised themselves and made themselves unrecognisable by using animal skins and horns, terrorised the inhabitants of neighbouring villages, robbing them of the supplies they needed for the winter. Soon, however, the boys realised that there was an impostor among them: it was the devil himself, who, taking advantage of his terrifying face, had introduced himself into the group, remaining recognisable only by his goat’s hoof-shaped feet. A bishop, Nicholas, was then called in to exorcise the terrible presence. From then on, having defeated the devil, the boys masked as devils continued to travel to neighbouring villages, no longer to plunder but to bring gifts accompanied by the figure of the bishop, the one who had defeated evil.

The Friuli rite takes place on the first Sunday of December after the 5th in Tarvisio.