Want a sleep in on Dec 28 in Austria? Don’t forget to disable your doorbell!

Austria has so many traditions and customs, especially in December. One I haven’t mentioned so far takes place on the 28th.

So picture this – it is our first year of owning our house, I am on Christmas holidays ready for a sleep in, and before 5am on December 28th, the doorbell rings.

My instant reaction was panic. Who knocks at the door at such a time? Only police, right? Not that it’s ever happened to me… but I’ve seen it on TV. Hubby calmly rolls out of bed grumbling while I stay where I am, covers pulled up to my ears, heart pumping, waiting for the bad news.

And guess what it was?

Kids… chanting a rhyme… and slapping the adults who answer the door with branches.

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Introducing Krampus, Austria’s Christmas devil, terrifying little kids into behaving


Krampus - Austrian Christmas tradition
Welcome to Austrian Christmas traditions!

Austrians have some strange folklore, but perhaps the one which is the most disturbing, especially for kids, is the Krampus. Saint Nicholas is the good guy that rewards the well-behaved kids with gifts on December 6th. But instead of simply telling kids in Austria that he simply won’t come if they are naughty, what they get told is the following:

“If you are naughty the Krampus will find you, pack you in his sack, and take you back with him to hell.” Continue reading