High in the Salzkammergut a group of KrampuBe mark the start of celebrations that will welcome St. Nicholas on Dec. 6. For hundreds of years Austrians have seized on the eve of the saint's day as an excuse to dress up and party.
Traditionally St. Nicholas and the Devil, Krampus, visit every home, with little rewards of chocolate, gingerbread or nuts for good children, while Krampus carries a bunch of twigs to punish the naughty ones.
In towns and cities commerce has seized on the event, wrapping all manner of foods in the traditional colors of red and black, while restaurants and discos put on special costume parties.
In the countryside revelers use a potent mix of ancient myth, legend and religious superstition, noisily parading through villages in the scariest costumes they can create to remind everyone of the "eternal evil everywhere".