Fighting monsters in Tarvisio

Apocalypse

The monster parade happens every year. In theory, the monsters, known as Krampus, help Santa Claus by punishing bad children. In practice, their parade is a fun way to spend a night. Young men get drunk, dress in furs, cowbells and masks three times the size of a normal head then parade around town beating up civilians.

The brutality begins across Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovenia every December 5th. In the small north Italian town of Tarvisio, men spend their snowed-in months carving and painting wooden masks with real animal horns, and assembling animal skin costumes. They form societies that meet regularly to plan the big day, when they will gather in the woods, arm themselves with thin, whip-like branches and then terrorize their neighbors: roaring through Tarvisio’s main road, forcing children to kneel and pray for their sins or else hunting errant adults down alleyways.

While most of the public try to stay out of the monsters’ path or else risk a painful switch on the legs, teenagers from Tarvisio often jump in the middle of the street to tease the monsters. Wearing sweatpants packed tight with folded newspaper padding and shin guards, they respect an unofficial rule: accept the beating, show strength and, if one of the dressed men is impressed, be approved to maraud with them, next year.

 

Writer: Luiz Romero

Photographer: Laia Abril