Salzburg with Salzach river, Austria
Silent night in Salzburg. Salzburg, Austria
The medieval streets of Salzburg look peaceful beneath a dusting of snow in our homepage image. This year, things will be quieter than usual on the night of 5 December – when the Austrian city usually hosts one of Europe’s most raucous Christmas traditions. The city’s Krampus run has been cancelled, amid continuing Covid restrictions.
Krampus, a furry, horned creature, is a sidekick to Father Christmas in Alpine folklore. But not a terribly nice one. While Santa showers children who’ve been good with toys, Krampus whips the naughty ones with sticks. Too cheery for you? In other stories, Krampus eats the little misbehavers or drags them to hell. And you thought a lump of coal was harsh.
Krampus festivities have their roots in ancient times and survived efforts by Austrian officials to stamp them out in the mid-20th century. Pre-pandemic, central Europe saw many revived Krampus-themed festivities like Salzburg's Krampus run, usually held on 5 December. However, the costumed Krampuses and other grotesque ghouls who usually take part will have to wait another year, the city axed the 2021 run due to the pandemic.