Krampus.
Project info

Kodak Tri-x 400 Film
Ilford Delta 3200 Film

The word “Krampus” comes probably from the ancient German word “Kramp” (claw) which is typical of these devil-face and hairy-body men.
The legs are torches lighting the night and rods hiting someone who’s within range. They carry bells, horns and chains so that you can always hear them. This tradition comes from the ancient German population and it’s proudly kept going even nowadays in many villages in the Alps.
It’s told that once upon a time during winter nights, some mountain dweller dressed up using animal skins and horns and frightened the inhabitants of neighbour villages. They were so scared to see them and believed they were devils going hunting for souls and they let them steal their food provisions for the winter. The devil took advantage of its features and integrated into the group but he couldn’t hide the billy goat legs and so he was unmasked.
The evil was now between them and especially in their chest. They wanted to free themselves from this worrying and bad creature and so they ask Saint Nicholas for help. He chased the evil away and helped the boys to take the path of righteousness. In order to remember these events, the young people dress up as devils on the 5th December and they march along the streets towing Saint Nicholas on a cart. Saint Nicholas calms down the evils and then he sit down on a throne; he calls for the children who should list their assets and faults. Good behaviour children become sweets from him; the other are reproached and menaced to be kidnapped from Krampus if they do not remedy during the year. Meanwhile the evil is pulled until a pyre and burned.
While Saint Nicholas distributes presents to the children, in the village there’s a lot of bedlam. Krampus have long rots and let the children kneel and order them to pray. Krampus scream and bark if children don’t do it well; but they even help them suggesting words and at the end they caress them. Children are afraid of Krampus because they look like true evils; the boys dare Krampus to run after them to show their courage and to show they do not feel their blows. Even the girls dare Krampus for a sort of “love game”; the most Krampus follow them, the most they feel desired. Even if they carry heavy furs, corns and bells, they are fine figures of men who lash even the legs of the girls when they reach them. It’s always the same game which is played all around the world! Teenagers are honoured to show, on the day after, the signs of their boldness; Krampus are ashamed to show their faces and to let people know who was hidden under the masks. Adults are generally not involved in these challenges but when it happens they are treated the same way. Under the mask, old bad feelings disappear. Someone has heard under the mask the voice of his neighbour and some woman has heard the voice of her husband!