It's that time of year again when many of us start shopping for presents and playing our favorite Christmas songs.
But while most people set up nativity scenes and Santa Claus decorations for their little ones during the holiday, others wear terrifying costumes in celebration of a Christmas demon.
Yes, you read that right.
In European countries like Germany and Austria, thousands of people gather together for pre-Christian Krampus festivals and parades between November and December. However, the theme of these events isn't exactly good will toward mankind -- it's more about scaring as much of the crowd as possible, especially if they happen to be children.
In Austro-Bavarian Alpine folklore, Krampus is a half-goat, half-demon figure who is basically the opposite of Saint Nicholas.
During the Christmas season, Krampus is said to accompany Santa as he travels between houses. But while Saint Nick rewards good children with presents, Krampus punishes the naughty ones in disturbing ways.
In addition to beating misbehaving children with branches, he is also said to shove them into his sack to bring them back to Hell, where he eats or tortures them.
Instead of dressing up like Santa Claus during the holiday, some Europeans go to festivals honoring the terrifying demon. Performers dress their scariest and stomp down the streets, doing their best to frighten everyone in their path.
Many carry torches or weapons to make themselves appear even more scary to onlookers.
Others wear the chains and bells that Krampus is known for, which are thought to symbolize Christianity's binding of the Devil.
Whatever they happen to be wearing, I think most of us will agree that they're all pretty freaky.
It might not sound like an event you'd want to bring your children to, but some look like they're enjoying every second of it.
If you're one of those people who can't get enough horror even right after Halloween, these festivals definitely seem like they'd be worth a trip to Europe. I might have to attend one myself in the future.
(via The Sun)