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Every year on the 5th December a mangled, monstrously deranged face with bloodshot eyes, long horns and a giant furry black body can be seen stalking the mountain villages of South Tirol in the gathering winter gloom. On the same day St. Nicholas, the cheerful bearded patron of brewers and prostitutes also visits these villages. Children who have been good and who have helped their parents in the home and in the fields to get things ready for winter will be rewarded by St Nick with gifts of treats and sweets.

Children who have been naughty dread the arrival of the Krampus, the hairy horned monster from the shadows who has been sent to punish them. The ancient monster's name means 'the claw' and if they are lucky they will get away with a fright and beating with a birch branch but if they have been very bad they may disappear forever, stuffed into a sack and hauled off to the monsters lair to be tortured or even eaten. Over the centuries many people have tried to banish the Krampus but on St. Nicholas' Eve you can still seem him stalk the streets of the mountain villages of Tirol and woe betide you if you have been naughty!

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