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You are in: Homepage > Events > Italy > Tarvisiano > Krampus


The rite is an allegory of the eternal fight between good and evil.  The Krampus (representation of the devil), escorts of the Saint of Mira (St. Nicholas), appear as mysterious woodland spirits, covered with skins or furs. They wear monstrous masks with big red, white or naturally coloured horns.  A long red tongue hangs from their toothed mouth, which with their walking stick and bundles of sticks held by the Krampus is believed to be a phallic symbol.  They have big bells and chains to announce their arrival; moreover they issue guttural sounds and move with aggressive attitudes. On the evening of 5 December, when it is dusk, they appear by accompanying St.  Nicholas; passing through the main road of the town carrying torches and bundles of canes, dragging a cart where the Saint towers over everyone.  In Tarvisio, in particular, upon arrival in the square, the Krampus cease to serve St.  Nicholas and go wild by chasing after the youngsters and sometimes the adults to whip them, make them kneel down and recite prayers (the rite takes place - with a few differences - in other towns too, but it remains practically the same.  For example in Pontebba, the Krampus are called Spitz Parkli). In some towns, in the end, a bonfire is lit and the Krampus dance around it.  This rite, which is undoubtedly pagan, in ancient times, did not have the figure of St. Nicholas that was introduced in the medieval times as a positive moderator of the native forces impersonated by the actual Krampus.

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