it has been a particular treat this year to make friends, via the internet, with people in austria who are following our krampus adventures. chris steffler is a member of the krampus group wienerwoid teif’in. here’s what chris looked like this past weekend:
chris contacted me with an offer of info, translations, whatever. and we got to chatting — about the difference between krampus groups in austria, and krampus culture in general. chris was kind enough to ask permission of his group’s chairman for a little Q-and-A about what it’s really like to be a krampus in austria. here is the first half of that conversation!
I would like to hear a story about a challenge or difficulty that can come up in a group like this. When you have people working closely together on something that is close to their hearts, and is creative in nature, people can become angry or hurt… can you give me an example of what kinds of problems come up among members and how you solve them?
I can tell you a story of my first group. It was just horrible what sick minds people can have about being a Krampus. For the members of this group it was first priority to scare people, hit them, pull them to the ground and all this sh**. I tried to talk with them about traditions and that this isn’t correct what they were all doing. We had also a lot of disputes about firework/pyro techniques ‘cause it’s very dangerous to use this if you don’t know how to handle it! After a lot of discussing I left this group ‘cause it wasn’t in my interest to scare, hurt or pull people down. I was very angry about this members and so I wanted to be a member in a group which accept and spread the traditions and to “fight” against all “show groups”.
Whether in your Krampus group or others you know about… are all members generally from the same families? Do new people join? Do people have to live in the same village or area? In other words — if you are someone who is young and has never been in a Krampus group and has no family members who have done it, how would you know which one you could join or belong to?
I searched for a Krampus group near Vienna and found d’ Wienerwoid Teif’ln in an Austrian Krampus Community (www.krampusmania.at). While visiting the homepage I found a note about new members and contacted the chairman. After a few hours he responded and invited me to an event where I could see the costumes and masks of the group and talk about what they are doing, what was the aim of the group and so on…
I would also know what the BEST things about keeping this tradition alive are for you.
The best what can happen is when you see a child who doesn’t fear you or if a child fears you and at the end you hold them in your arms and it smiles. I remember one child (I think 4 years old) which was really afraid of my presence. On my knees I stretched forth my hand to the child and with little steps she came closer to me. In the end there was a picture of us where you can see the child smiling! That was just amazing.
It’s right that we don’t hurt or fright children. I also don’t hurt adults – just touch lightly the legs with the rod. But I really love to scare adults – I prefer to do like I will pass this person and in a moment I turn fast to this person and scream very loud. That’s just funny and a lot of people like this!
Do you have special memories from childhood about attending Krampuslauf? Do you feel that it teaches children something they would otherwise not have?
In my childhood I feared the Krampus but at same time I was fascinated about it. I liked the masks, costumes and coats and for sure I liked how they all move. I’m sure that it can teach – I’ve learned to do something against the fear of Krampus and there were a lot of moments in my life when I remembered back to how I solved this fear – it teaches me for my whole life to fear or to solve!
So I have to say: Don’t fear the Krampus!
check out chris’ group, wienerwoid teif’in — they are really original! and i personally can’t wait to have the rest of my questions answered by the chairman. i am so grateful! thank you chris! (and i will send you a poster!)