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Renaissance festival in Bavaria

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Mindelheim is one of those old towns in Bavaria that man could just fall in love with. This Swabian village (it’s just 90 kilometers far from München) has been around for the better part of several thousand years, yet is incredibly modern and an all around great place to hang out for a few days. Besides the fun festivals and astonishing Bavarian countryside, the museums here are just aces.

Let’s begin with the city tour: the town center of Mindelheim reflects the typical structure of a medieval settlement. The most important municipal buildings such as the town hall or churches are arranged around a central market square. Like many other German cities, Mindelheim’s used to be surrounded by a city wall. As in most cases, this wall is now incomplete as it was partially torn down in the 19th century to make room for modern buildings. Nevertheless, the remaining parts of the wall and some gates give a good impression of the original state.

And what medieval town is complete without a castle? Above the city the Castle Mindelburg is a striking 12th century beauty that was once used as an army hospital Sorry, there’s not too much visiting inside, because it’s now housing the offices of a book publishing company and a restaurant, but at least you can have all the “Kodak Moments” you want outside. The castle was not changed much in the last centuries. The complete annex displays the typical structure of a European fortress, including a donjon. This architectural ensemble is used to stage several festivals and markets such as the Georg Frundsberg’s festival which is held every three years.

What else you can see before participating in the festival?

The Textile Museum has a relatively new exhibit on religious garments from the Middle Ages to modern day. Another exhibit takes a look at clothing trends from the late 19th century to the early 20th; great for the fashionista in all of us.

One of the more unique museums you’ll find in all of Germany is the Swabian Tower Clock Museum. Housed in the old Silvester kirche (Silvester Church) are some of the oldest watches and other instruments of time telling, the oldest dates to the 16th century. However Mindelheim’s Local History Museum is filled with other displays of cultural life, including traditional Bavarian costumes, and art.

The South Swabian Archaeological Museum has exhibits on life here in the Alb during the days of the last Ice Age, when the Romans traveled the area, and daily life of the early Middle Ages.P1160068

And what medieval town is complete without a medieval procession?

The Frundsberg Festring Mindelheim which is celebrated every three years was founded on July 19, in 1977 by initiative of seven inhabitants of Mindelheim as a public, incorporated association listed in the register of associations without any confessional or political motivation whatsoever. The Frundsberg Festring is committed to the maintenance and continual further development of the Frundsberg Festival, the reenactment of the medieval times in tradition, music and all sorts of performances as well as the preservation of Mindelheim living carnival tradition. For these purposes, the association pursues the foundation and promotion of historical and musical groups, the planning, organization and performance of the triennially Frundsberg Festival and engages in permanent quality-improvement activities. Besides, the Frundsberg Festring acts as a holding organization for several different historical and two carnival departments as well as numerous sections. People of Mindelheim celebrate the Frundsberg Festival a whole row of medieval shops, medieval craftsmen at work, and the great parade is the medieval procession.

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In sticking with Mindelheim’s medieval feeling, the Frundsbergfest was a big fun way of looking at medieval life (fun now, but life was hard back then) and a celebration to Knight and Field Captain Landsknecht of George von Frundsberg (who was a German military leader in the 16th century in the service of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the Imperial house of Habsburg). There were plenty of historical costumes, good hearty local food (wild bore), concerts, and all out revelry for a few days around the town.

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Carnival fever in Germany

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Tomorrow (8th of February) in Germany many streets will come to life with colorful parades, loud music and celebrations around every corner since it’s carnival time. Even if you’ve experienced Carnival in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, there is still a lot to learn about how the German-speaking countries have fun. Here are five popular carnival celebrations throughout Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

But first of all what is “Fasching”?

Actually, a more precise question would be: What is Fasching, Karneval, Fasnacht and Fastelabend? They are all one and the same thing: pre-Lenten-Spring festivities celebrated in grand style mostly in the predominantly Catholic regions of the German-speaking countries. The Rhineland has its Karneval, Austria, Bavaria and Berlin (the capital of Germany) call it Fasching however the German-Swiss celebrate Fastnacht. I have found other names as well for Fasching such as: Fassenacht, Fasnet, Fastelavend, Fastlaam stc..Nicknames Fünfte Jahreszeit (fifth season) or Narrische Saison!

When is it celebrated? Fasching officially begins in most regions in Germany on Nov 11 at 11:11 a.m. or the day after the Three kings day, on Jan. 7th. However, the big bash celebrations are not on the same given date each year. Instead the date varies depending on when Easter falls. Fasching culminates into Fasching week, which begins the week before Ash Wednesday! (this year the carnival period is from 8th of February till 15th)1011033_10152634173905830_2094941595_n

How is it celebrated?

Soon after Fasching season opens, a mock government of eleven guilds is elected, along with a Carnival prince and princess, who basically plan the carnival festivities. The biggest events are held the week before Asch Wednesday as follows:

Weiberfastnacht (women carnival): This is mainly an event held in the Rhineland (but also in München, Bavaria) on the Thursday before Asch Wednesday. The day begins with women storming into symbolically taking over city hall. Then, the women throughout the day snip off men’s ties and kiss any man who passes their way The day ends with people going to local venues and bars in costume

Parties, celebrations and parades: People celebrate the carnival in costume at various Carnival Community events and individual parties. Carnival parades abound. It is the weekend for people to live it up!

Rosenmontag-Rosen Monday: The largest and most popular Carnival parades take place on the Monday before Asch Wednesday! The origin of these parades come mostly from the Rhineland region. People throughout the German-speaking countries will tune in to watch the biggest German Carnival parade of all, which is held in Cologne (television channels broadcast the festival)

Fastnachtdienstag-Carnival Tuesday-Mardi Gras: Besides some parades that are held on this day, there is an other event it is called burial or burning of the Nubbel. The Nubbel is a life-sized puppet made of straw and embodies all of the sins committed during Carnival season. It is burned through a great ceremony on Tuesday evening before everyone parties one more time until Asch Wednesday arrives

What is the root or origin of the celebration? Fasching celebrations stem from various beliefs and traditions. For Catholics, it provided a festive season of food and fun before the Lenten fasting period began During the medieval times, plays were performed during the Lenten period called Fastnachtspiele. In pre-Christian times, Carnival symbolized the driving out of winter and all of its evil spirits. Hence the masks, to scare away these spirits. In southern Germany and Switzerland reflects these traditions.

Furthermore, there are Carnival traditions that can be traced back to historical events. After the French Revolution, the French took over Rhineland. Out of protest against French oppression, Germans from Cologne and surrounding areas would mock their politicians and leaders safely behind masks during Carnival season. Even today, caricatures of politicians and other personalities can be seen boldly portrayed on floats in the parades. Farsangi fánk 021

 

Advent bug in Germany

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Christmas is a time of domestic involvement. Many of the visible tokens of celebration-the decoration of the house and the presents-for friends-are in fact family projects that are relaxing and pleasurable. But four weekends before Christmas are the perfect time for gatherings, getting new ideas for Christmas in the Advent markets! The last two weekends I got the Advent bug and I visited two different cities in Germany to get in the Advent mood.

During the first weekend of December I went to Ludwigsburg’s Baroque Christmas Market (It is only 250 kms from München, circa 2 hours 45 minutes by car). The huge Castle was surrounded by arcades with its festively decorated stands were a winter dream came true. Arches and gates made of thousands of tiny light bulbs welcomed the visitors to the over 170 Christmas booths and majestic angels spread their glittering wings to bless the scene. The two baroque churches were also festively illuminated. The typical symmetry of a baroque city and garden architecture was the model for the layout of the Ludwigsburg Christmas market.

We breathed in the scents of mulled wine, the roasted chestnuts and gingerbread. However we didn’t have time to participate in some festive concert, but we were enchanted by the uniquely decorated market stalls and the adorned stalls offering traditional arts and crafts that made perfect presents for the family members.

I can recommend this place to everyone! According to my daughters during Christmas season this castle is more than just a visit. The Christmas market and the nearby pedestrian area with its numerous shopping opportunities will make your Christmas shopping a real pleasure. Go and enjoy Ludwigsburg with its Christmas flair!

The second magical event awaited us was the Ravennaschlucht-Ravenna gorge Christmas market which is held every weekend from December 1st-to the 23d. It’s a circa 3-hour drive from the KMC and under 2 hours from Stuttgart. Imagine a small village full of wooden houses, the scent of mulled wine and cinnamon in the air, snow covered mountains and fairy lights everywhere you look. Need I say more? This truly unique market was located in a romantic gorge. Free shuttle buses left at Hinterzarten and Himmelreich every thirty minutes; parking was available at the train stations as well. (But be careful parking closer to the market has to be reserved in advance). Because we didn’t make parking reservation therefore we parked in a village near by, called Hinterzarten. And then we saw Xmas bus which took us for free to that beautiful place under an old bridge. Admission was free. Can you imagine? Medieval music, scents of “Glühwein” and sweets, deco lights and torches, creeks and mountains…it’s unbelievable such the fantastic hot chocolate and the deer burger!március 18 2012. Belgium 022

Hot chocolate drink: 250 ml milk, 150 ml cream, 75 g bittersweet chocolate, vanilla sugar or extract, 2 tbsp brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger bread spices

Methods: Melt chocolate. Cook milk and cream together but don’t let them boil. Stir melted chocolate in and flavor with 2 tbsp sugar and the vanilla sugar. Scatter some cinnamon powder and ginger bread spices on the top and enjoy!

 

 

The oddest and longest pumpkin festival

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Though the Germans aren’t known for their Halloween celebrations (there are more European traditions like Reformationstag and Martin’s day), they are very into pumpkins. Generally referred to as “Kürbis” which means “squash”, this is a fall staple that must be consumed in mass quantities like Spargel in spring and summer.

So what better place than Germany for the largest pumpkin festival in the world? Taking place on the grounds of a spectacular palace, Schloss Ludwigsburg, over 450,000 pumpkins are on display during Ludwigsburg Kürbis ausstellung (Pumpkin exhibition).

There are 800 different kinds of pumpkins on display from edible to decorative, bumpy to smooth, mammoth to skinny and curvy. With themes like “Pumpkins in Flight” or “The Pumpkin Circus is Coming to Town!” “Rome”(this year) pumpkins are transformed into elaborate action scenes and art pieces acrobatics, clowns, knife throwers and more.

Hundreds of thousands of festive pumpkins are on display every day, but there are several can’t miss events during the festival. It runs from 1st of September until 5th of November! Here is the event calendar:

Pumpkin festival Grounds

The largest pumpkins of the festival are on display again, this time being cut into by famed pumpkin artists. Watch as they cut into orangey flesh to create giant, organic masterpieces. Watch for famed US Pumpkin carver Ray Villafane and his team from 15th to 18th of September. The audience will judge which giant pumpkin is best transformed.

Pumpkin regatta Sunday, September 18 at 12:30 South Garden, Blühendes Barock

It is surprising what will float…like a pumpkin. The annual pumpkin boat race is a highlight of the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival. Daring canoeists try to steer hollowed-out giant pumpkins across the lake as fast as they can

German Pumpkin Championship on Sunday Oct 2 at 13:30 in the South Garden Blühendes Baroque

The heaviest pumpkins from Germany step up to the scales. So far the German record was 812,5 kg (1,791 lbs). Ludwigsburg-17

European Pumpkin Championship on Sunday October 9 at 13:30

Following the German Championship heavy weights from around Europe will compare their girth for this competition. In 2013 the world heaviest pumpkin was 1,053 kg (2,322 pounds) making first in history to surpass the 1,000 kg mark.

Giant Pumpkin Carving on Sunday October 16 at 10:00

Halloween pumpkin Carving Sunday October 22 and 29 at 10:00 Carving tents by the pumpkin sales stand if you are missing seeing jack’o lanterns on every corner, watch the experts carve Halloween pumpkins into sinister smiles and try your skills at an artistic design. There is even the chance to win great prizes!

Smashing pumpkins Sunday November 6 at 12:00

Pumpkin Festival grounds to celebrate the end of the season, the winning pumpkins are honored with horrific pummeling. The winners of the Weigh Off are smashed to bits and visitors can take home some of the giants’ seeds. And besides there are plenty interesting programs such as:

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival for the Kids

The grounds are a fall wonderland for kids and adults alike, but kids can really run free at the Märchengarten -Fairy Tale Garden. Not quite medieval, this kids’ area was built in 1958 and includes interactive sites like a Rapunzel tower, miniature train and boat ride. Children can also observe dioramas of classic German fairytales, some recognizable…some not so much.

And gastronomy:

All things Pumpkin are on the Menu

What fun is looking at all of these delicious pumpkins if you can’t eat any of them? Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival is happy to oblige with tons of pumpkin-inspired foods and drinks.

Find pumpkin on Flammkuchen (like pizza), in sausage and in Maultaschen. Try Kürbis spaghetti with pumpkin seed pesto or pumpkin burgers and pumpkin fries, find pumpkin in strudel, and in Sekt (champagne) and pumpkin schorle-a non alcoholic beverage with bubbles.

And don’t miss Germany’s biggest bowl of pumpkin soup! Served daily from 11:00 until 17:00 on the weekend of September 24th and 25th. Visitors can enjoy a delicious dish of the record-breaking soup and contribute to charity as 1 euro of each bowl sold is donated to charity.

And if you want to bring a little pumpkin home, there are plenty of delicious pumpkin products. Stands offer everything from pumpkin chutney to pumpkin ketchup to cinnamon-sugar coated pumpkin seeds. Bring your own jug to fill with fresh-pressed apple cider. Take the opportunity to sample everything.  IMG_20150920_172316

 

Trolls & Legends festival with Clive Standen

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I met the handsome, British actor, Clive Standen in Belgium in the Trolls & Legends festival! He is best known for his roles on Starz’s Camelot and the BBC’s Robin Hood and Doctor Who, now Taken. But he’s still breaking out into leading-man territory and causing blood pressures to rise as the fearsome, seafaring Norse warrior Rollo on History’s hit series Vikings. I talked to him in the VIP room in April (2017) and when he put his eyes on me, he stood up immediately and started to sing the “Young girl, get out of my mind”..by Gerry and the Puckets (now I know who was this singer) then he hugged me! It was a greeting of a Viking’s way-he told my with a big smile on his face! Then I revealed him that according to my DNS I’m a viking, belong to the tribe of Sigurd! He was totally impressed by hearing that and dedicated my book: The Many Witches Auberge.

Clive Standen, (35), may play a brooding sexy man on the TV, but he recently opened up to PEOPLE and revealed his softer side. Here are five things to know about the charismatic actor:

1. He appreciates women more than ever, now that he’s had long hair.
For
Vikings, Standen had to grow a bushy beard, sport tattoos and scars and don long tresses that extended past his shoulders.

“I wore hair extensions for six months. I have a newfound respect for women,” says Standen. “I’d wake up with all the hair stuck to my face and spend the next 20 minutes trying to take out all the tangles. I don’t shout at my wife when she’s taking forever to get ready anymore.”

2. He’s a romantic and a pro with sweet gestures.
He and his wife, Francesca, 45, who works in the music industry, have been together for years and married for the last five. “I was very lucky to find the woman of my dreams at an early age, and I haven’t looked back,” he says.

He popped the question with an all-day proposal that included spray-painting “I love you, Francesca” down her street, writing love notes on big placards, dressing up as her favorite celeb, Elvis Presley, and singing “Fools Rush In” as he got down on bended knee. “I couldn’t afford the big expensive engagement ring, so I had to do something big,” he explains.

The actor still keeps the romance alive today by cooking meals that he serves in the garden by candlelight after the kids are asleep.

 3. He’s a doting dad.
Raising the couple’s three children – Hayden, 14, Edi, 10, and Rafferty, 6, whom he calls “the loves of my life” – is the time Standen cherishes most.

“I really love being a house dad. To pick up the pieces and do everything that is needed for them is a great pleasure,” he says. “It’s important to have one-on-one time. It’s great to get down on the carpet and play cars with them or give the kids a bath and play spaceship.”

4. He’s a thrill-seeking adventure type.
When he’s not filming in Ireland or home in London with the kids, Standen enjoys deep-sea swimming.

“The scuba-diving thing came from my wife and I trying to find a hobby,” he says. “My wife is an amazing swimmer, and I love marine life. I’ve swum with sharks before. I’m trying to get to good enough to go diving in the Arctic Circle. I want to go into the extreme and go under the ice.”

5. He’s a Muay Thai boxing champ.
To play Vikings, Standen and his cast mates had to look like skilled fighters. Luckily for the actor, he already had the experience and physical prowess to portray a warrior – growing up, he was a national Muay Thai boxing champion. He also grew up near Sherwood Forest and did jousting as part of a live-action guided tour.

“With this (The Vikings) role, I get to live out all my fantasies,” he says. “I’m sword fighting, I go horse riding and row long boats. It’s come full circle!”

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Tons of avocados on 5th of May

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May 5th has arrived, and with it come extravagant Cinco de Mayo (Cinco de Mayo translates to the Fifth of May) celebrations around USA. The day is widely recognized as a time to drink margaritas, eat guacamole and celebrate Mexico’s cultural heritage, many people know relatively little about the true meaning of the Mexican holiday. To clear up some misconceptions, here are some important facts about the celebration of heritage and culture: first of all it is not the Mexican Independence Day! It is celebrated on September 16.

Cinco Mayo, honors the Battle of Puebla that took place May 5, 1962. During the battle, also known as El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla, a group of only 2,000 Mexicans was outnumbered by 10,000 French troops. But only 100 Mexican soldiers died, while the French lost about 500 in the battle..

The holiday is celebrated more in the United States than elsewhere. Though it’s heralded as a Mexican tradition, the holiday is a far bigger deal in the U.S, especially in regions with large Mexican-American populations. In Mexico, the largest celebrations take place in Puebla and Veracruz, where military re-enactments are held. Costumed revelers dance through the streets of south Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the annual Carnival de Puebla, a traditional Mexican carnival celebration that re-enacts the Battle of Cinco de Mayo, Apr. 27, 2014. 

One of the most popular dishes eaten in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo is mole poblano, a thick chocolate sauce served over meats and other items. Some favorite recipes include Chalupas, or fried tortillas, and Chiles en Nogada, or peppers stuffed and fried.

The world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration takes place in Los Angeles. Known as the Festival de Fiesta Broadway, the 2017 event was expected to bring an estimated 300,000 people.

The U.S. drinks an exorbitant amount of tequila to celebrate the holiday. In 2014, Americans bought 12.3 million cases of tequila for Cinco de Mayo, twice as much as was consumed in Mexico, according to the Daily Meal. About 43 percent of all cocktails ordered on the holiday in the U.S. were margaritas. Americans also eat a ton of avocados on the holiday. More than 81 million avocados are consumed on Cinco de Mayo, according to the California Avocado Commission!

Here it is an Avocado dream cream dessert for you:

Ingredients: ¼ cup mascarpone cheese, 14 cup cold whipping cream, 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup diced ripe avocado, (from Mexico, hehe, divided, but you can replace avocado with apples or raspberry), Amarettini, Italian biscuits with almond taste

Directions: Combine mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, condensed milk, and ½ cup of diced avocados in a large mixing bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

Fold in remaining ½ cup of diced avocados into avocado cream.

Transfer/layer to serving glasses (the cream is in the middle). Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garnish with diced avocado, or amarettini almond biscuits and serve with some exotic fruit, such as physalis (Optional).

Above on the picture there is a Toast with avocado, which is made with garlic, chilli, pepper, Mexican guacamole mix spice, half of a lemon juice, and caraway seeds was added to avocado cream as well.

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Greetings from the devil or Krampus running in Münich

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The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on 6 December. On the preceding evening of December 5, Krampus Night , the wicked hairy devil appears on the streets. Sometimes accompanying St. Nicholas and sometimes on his own, but Krampus visits homes and businesses. The Saint usually appears in the Eastern Rite vestments of a bishop, and he carries a golden ceremonial staff. Unlike in Hungarian versions of Santa Claus, in these celebrations Saint Nicholas concerns himself only with the good children, while Krampus is responsible for the bad. Nicholas dispenses gifts, while Krampus supplies coal and the ruten bundles!

A Krampus running is a run of celebrants dressed as the wicked beast, often fueled by alcohol. The tradition resurrects a centuries-old ancient ritual meant to disperse winter’s ghosts.
It is customary to offer a Krampus schnapps, a strong distilled fruit brandy. These runs may include Perchten, similarly wild pagan spirits of Germanic folklore and sometimes female in representation, although the Perchten are properly associated with the period between winter solstice and 6 January.

The origin of the Krampus running
In Austro-Bavarian Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as “half-goat, half-demon”, who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Regions in Austria feature similar figures and, more widely, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure.
In traditional parades and in such events as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run), young men dressed as Krampus participate; such events occur annually in most Alpine towns. Krampus is featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.
The history of the Krampus figure has been theorized as stretching back to Pre-Christian Alpine traditions. In a brief article discussing the figure, published in 1958, Maurice Bruce wrote:
There seems to be little doubt as to his true identity for, in no other form is the full regalia of the Horned God of the Witches so well preserved. The birch – apart from its phallic significance – may have a connection with the initiation rites of certain witch-covens; rites which entailed binding and scourging as a form of mock-death. The chains could have been introduced in a Christian attempt to ‘bind the Devil’ but again they could be a remnant of pagan initiation rites. Discussing his observations while in Irdning, a small town in Styria
The Saint Nicholas festival incorporates cultural elements widely distributed in Europe, in some cases going back to pre-Christian times. Nicholas himself became popular in Germany around the eleventh century. The feast dedicated to this patron of children is only one winter occasion in which children are the objects of special attention, others being Martinmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and New Year’s Day. Masked devils acting boisterously and making nuisances of themselves are known in Germany since at least the sixteenth century while animal masked devils combining dreadful-comic antics appeared in Medieval church plays. A large literature, much of it by European folklorists, bears on these subjects.
Austrians in the community we studied are quite aware of “heathen” elements being blended with Christian elements in the Saint Nicholas customs and in other traditional winter ceremonies. They believe Krampus derives from a pagan supernatural who was assimilated to the Christian devil.
The Krampus figures persisted, and by the 17th century Krampus had been incorporated into Christian winter celebrations by pairing Krampus with St Nicholas. Countries of the former Habsburg Empire have largely borrowed the tradition of Krampus accompanying St Nicholas on 5 December from Austria. Towards the end of the century, a popular resurgence of Krampus celebrations occurred and continues today.
Luckily the Krampus tradition is being revived in Bavaria as well, along with a local artistic tradition of hand-carved wooden masks (I’m really looking forward to the event which will be held on 11th and 18th of December in the city center Marien platz)). There has been public debate in Austria in modern times about whether Krampus is appropriate for children. Although Krampus appears in many variations, most share some common physical characteristics. He is hairy, usually brown or black, and has the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. His long, pointed tongue lolls out, and he has fangs
Krampus carries chains, thought to symbolize the binding of the Devil by the Christian Church. He thrashes the chains for dramatic effect. The chains are sometimes accompanied with bells of various sizes. Of more pagan origins are the ruten, bundles of birch branches that Krampus carries and with which he occasionally swats children. The ruten may have had significance in pre-Christian pagan initiation rites. The birch branches are replaced with a whip in some representations. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back; this is to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell. Some of the older versions make mention of naughty children being put in the bag and being taken. This part of the legend refers to the times that the Moors raided the European coasts, and as far as Iceland, to abduct the local people into slavery. This quality can be found in Belgium in other Companions of Saint Nicholas such as Zwarte Piet who is a young Moorish man.
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