Monday, November 28, 2011

Further Styrian Adventures: Monsters

Styria is the home to, or at least the source of, some interesting oddities of crypto zoology—what some may call mythological beings. Historical records speak of dragons in the area. “Carmilla,” one of the earliest vampire stories, takes place there; and Stoker even set his most famous novel in Styria before changing the setting to Transylvania at the last minute. In fact, Count Eric Von Stenbock in 1894 wrote, “Vampire stories are generally located in Styria.”

Another monstrous creature that can be found throughout Alpine lands in early winter is the Krampus. They are fury, like a sheep or goat and have large horns as a ram or antelope would. Their face is the face of a demon and they go about banging cow bells and chains with large baskets on their backs. Their mission: to punish or even abduct naughty children.

Such legendary creatures are usually brought into existence to keep people in line. (Incidentally, that is no good way to make a better humanity.) However, in today’s Europe where ideas of guilt and holding children to a better standard are no longer popular, the Krampus is not a source of fear but rather entertainment. Families turn out in mass to watch Krampuses who have been rounded up and forced to march in parades. It is sad really. In their wild habitat, however, one is advised to proceed with caution, and under no circumstance should one go out with naughty children in early December.

(Photos taken in Graz, Austria 11/27/11.)

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