Die Klausentreiben Nacht (Alps 1/2)

It’s Friday early morning. The smokey windows of my room indicate me that it’s cold outside.

Even by my standards.

Perfect for a trip to the alps. Good, one was planned for the past month and a half.

Crawl out of bed, pack my bag and on my way I was to meet friends from University.


Giant double decker bus, beer, music definitely Bavarian morning. . .

We arrived after a short trip and dropped all of our stuff at the hostel. It was then time to get to the city and walk around a bit.

The air was sharp and cold. They call it the Alpine air. Deserted city, not enough snow to ski, such a pity. So many closed restaurants and sports goods stores.

The day passed by in a flash, we went back to the hostel to move our stuff into our rooms.

A bus full of international students in a dead ski-town hostel

Then, was the Klausentreiben Nacht. . .


Foggy, of course.

We arrived into a small town called Algaü an hour before it happened. 

I knew the legends of father Krampus, but never was I to imagine that German people would willingly get physically hurt over re-enacting it.


The story goes that Saint Nicholas has a less likable cousin . . . .

Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Christmas season who had misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children and drag them off into the black forest.


Generally, Krampus is said to be made of fur, have horns and drag naughty children away in the woods where he hangs them in the trees, leaving them in the cold, and eating them on the eve of Saint Nicholas day, the 5th of December, leaving only a lump of coal behind.

Santa has his elves, Krampus has the Klausentreiben.

The Klausentreiben walk around in Alpine villages, terrorizing people, especially children, with their giant bells, and wood sticks which they strike you with.

Waiting outside, all of a sudden we could here a thunderstorm of bells ringing aloud, the sound reverberating on the stone pavement of the streets.

A hoard of guys, dressed with fur, horned furry heads and waist-worn giant cowbells came rolling down the paved hill in between the houses with their sticks, ready to strike the legs of unsuspecting bystanders.

Anyone that they would circle would be yelled at in German to sing, and if the performance was not deemed satisfying, would be beaten.

Walking in the streets, packed with people, young men dressed in full Krampus regalia, beating people’s legs and buts with wooden rods.

It was truly a night of terror, and bruised legs.

Sometimes, just to cross the street, which meant coming out from behind the protection offered by the cover of the crowd, so we had to run, pain often following our heels.

But in the end, I survived

My legs hurt so bad after getting him to take that one
My legs hurt so bad after getting him to take that one

Read part 2 

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