It is hard to imagine the wintertime traditions of the SalzburgerLand without the likes of the colorful, and occasionally unsettling Krampus and Perchten figures.
Accompanied by members of the local community, they head an array of processions which are held between December (during Advent) and early January.
The Pongau Krampus Parade is particularly famous, drawing more than 400 Krampus-costumed participants from throughout the region.
Annually on 5 January
Chanting "Glück hinein - Unglück heraus, die Percht kimmt ins Haus", the Perchten, actually members of Golling's "D' Rabenstoana" heritage association, greet the farmers, after which they begin the Perchten Play in front of the farmhouse to the beat of drums.
This performance was brought back to life in 1996, incorporating oral tradition and drawings by Karl Adrian.
The focal point of the performance is the argument between two opposing figures, Summer and Winter.
(ref. Salzburger Volkskultur, Vol. 20, Nov. 1996).
Annually on 5 January
Beginning in the late afternoon of January 5th, the Schnabelperchten are out on the streets of the Rauris Valley, checking up on the cleanliness and orderliness of the area's farms.
Their loud "Qua, qua" lets residents know they are about to arrive - and woe be to them if even a trace of dirt is found! According to (albeit brutal!) legend, they will cut open the lazy maid's stomach and stuff her with all the mess they find - which is reflected in the giant scissors today's Schnabelperchten still bring along with them.
They are also outfitted with wicker carrying baskets on their backs, big enough to hold plenty of gifts.
The most notable feature of these figures is their giant beak, sometimes as much as 2 feet long, which gives them the appearance of giant birds.
Beginning of January
Epiphany is marked by big processions of Perchten figures, the event rotating between Gastein, St. Johann, Bischofshofen and Altenmarkt.
Their masks and costumes reflect an incredibly rich tradition. Over the course of time, they have split into two main groups: Good and Evil.
On the side of Good we have the Schönperchten, with their own unique brand of headwear. On the side of Evil are the "Schiachen", sporting scary, horned costumes. Countless other figures orbit about both groups - these often drawn from the world of legend or other popular folk traditions. In earlier times, these processions sought to bring fertility to the soil and happiness in the new year.
Unken, Stuhlfelden, Zell am See
Annually on January 6
When Epiphany arrives in the towns of Unken, Stuhlfelden and Zell-am-See, the colorful Tresterer make their way from farm to farm and house to house, wishing the residents good fortune and blessings during the new year.
The Tresterer belong to a broader historic group known as the "Schönperchten". At the center of this unique tradition is a lively dance which they perform upon being admitted into the farmhouse itself.
Opinions are divided as to the significance of the dance: some associate it with the bringing in and treading of the grain harvest, while others see the Tresterer's dance as symbolically reawakening the earth and fields.
The Tresterer are accompanied in their travels by folk musicians, some of the "Schiachperchten", a "Hanswurst" fool figure and other characters drawn from folk culture.