In the days between Christmas and New Year holidays in the streets of cities in the Alpine regions of Austria and Bavaria a very unusual sight can be seen – a parade of mummers in masks of beasts that look like the characters of horror films. These popular characters of the German folk are the pagan spirit of wildlife Perchten and hell Krampus.
They are frightening and not very appealing to the eye. A big alpine bell whose loud sound dispels the winter completes the beast dress of Perchten. According to the local legend, in the middle of winter, Krampusses and Perchten prowl the streets looking for naughty children to punish them severely. But together with the evil “inhabitants” from the other world in Salzburg processions kind “beautiful Perchtens” also take part. They can be recognized by a smiling mask and a high headgear.
In Austria, this tradition is observed in the best way in Salzburg and its surroundings. In Salzburg Perchten carnival processions are held in evenings, close to the dates of the three major winter holidays – St. Nicholas Day (December 6), Winter Solstice (December 21) and the Epiphany (January 6).
You can complete your travel visiting the Salzburg Christmas Market. Beautiful Cathedral Square, the traditional stalls, the stars overhead and the quality of the products attract visitors year after year. You will be enchanted too: by traditional craftsmanship, delicious Christmas cookies, aromatic tree ornaments and many arts and crafts of the season.
So, winter holidays in Salzburg are really magic and fairy and it’s the perfect setting to get in the mood for Christmas.
Date: 21 December – 6 January
Place: Salzburg, Austria