Residents of the small Austrian town were concerned that some of the dozens of refugee families residing there, many from the Muslim countries of Syria or Afghanistan, might be confused or even frightened by the annual Krampus parade, known as a Perchtenlauf or Klaubaufe.
To prevent cultural misunderstandings, some eleven children of the families were invited to participate in a presentation of the props and costumes well in advance of the main event, according to Austrian broadcaster ORF.
The showing included the traditional grotesque masks, known locally as Larven, which are inspired by tales of demonic mountain spirits who bring troubles and disaster during winter.
“Klaubaufe are an important part of our tradition. For people who have never seen it, it can be somewhat intimidating,” said Bettina Huber, who is a volunteer for the initiative.
The asylum seekers were first shown some of the more friendly props, including the bells and the specially hand-carved unique masks.
Hand-carved wooden Larve from Tyrol. Photo: http://www.pirchnerhof.at/
Next, accompanied by shrieks and frightened faces from the children, the full costumes were introduced to the families.
“They had no idea about this [tradition], and were totally surprised. It's good that they see what happens,” Paulo Keliny, a translator from Egypt told local broadcaster ORF.
Children are terrified by the demonic faces. Photo: ORF screen shot
The event concluded with the appearance of the benevolent St. Nikolaus, who handed out gifts of nuts and mandarins to the children.
Markus Mühlburger, who played Nikolaus, explained “It was our desire to introduce them to the custom beforehand, so that they do not get too frightened during the Krampusläufe.”