Today is the day that St. Nicholas comes in Austria. He gives the good children a red gift bag filled with oranges, apples, peanuts, chocolates (chocolate coins are popular), and sometimes dates. This represents the real St. Nicholas giving coins and food to poor children (about A.D. 300).
Here you can see the older children eagerly looking out the window for St. Nicholas to arrive before our dinner.
In Austria, St. Nicholas has a helper - Krampus. Seriously, I think the purpose of Krampus is to terrify the children into behaving! Krampus punishes the bad children. This is the Krampus that visited the house we were at tonight. People take great pride in constructing their Krampus costume.
All in good fun. My son looks terrified here, but actually the older kids had a blast running and screaming around and around the house! All the way home he talked on and on about how much fun he had and how much he loved running from Krampus ("Krampus couldn't catch me!"). Krampus will hit you with the switch if he catches you (but THIS Krampus did not switch the kids!). Of course, the smaller children were terrified and were taken out of the rooms. Lots of noise, what with the running, screaming and the ringing bell of Krampus! Then Krampus left (so the little kids could come out of hiding) and St. Nicholas gave all the kids their red gift bags.
The stores are filled with chocolates with St. Nicholas and Krampus coverings. Also, you can get shaped sweet breads. This was my son's Krampus sweet bread - a gift from Krampus. Afterward, we all had a big dinner (or feast, as you will).
I blogged about all of this last year in this blog post and included photos of many different Krampus costumes from the parade. This year the Krampus parade was a few days ago, but it was raining so we did not go.
In 2009 we went downtown for the public arrival of St. Nicholas and Krampus and I blogged about that in this blog post .
I hope you enjoy learning about our family traditions!