When it gets dark in the days around 5 and 6 December, you can hear them from far away - and then even the bravest of hearts beat a little faster: the Krampuses are on their way! They also have Arthur Moinat to thank for their eerie appearance: the woodcarver makes the elaborate masks for Krampuses and Perchten. We visited him at his workshop in Zell am See and talked to him about tradition, the fascination of the scary and his passion for woodcarving.
During our visit, Arthur Moinat has just finished the most stressful weeks of the year: "Until mid-November, all the customers, including many groups - the so-called "Passers" - come to pick up their masks. There is quite a lot going on in the workshop". Now that his wood-carved masks are really coming into use, things are a little quieter for him - at least until January, when the first customers come back to order their masks for next year.
He taught himself the craft of carving - by practising, practising and even more practising: While working as an interior decorator, he went to the workshop to carve every evening after work. "Carving has been meditative for me ever since. I enjoy it a lot and it always challenges me. The most beautiful thing about it is the process, how something new emerges cut after cut, and how you breathe life into a block of wood," he says about his passion. In the meantime, he has turned this passion into his profession.
And what does he say to people who are afraid of this tradition? "Personally, I would never take off the mask. I think if you are Krampus, then you are Krampus - and this figure should not be demystified under any circumstances. But especially with children, I like to get down to eye level and show that we're actually friendly if they've been good all year." Children are also welcome in his work shop, of course: Then they see that, above all, a special craft is behind the scary mask.