Every year around December 6 there are runnings strange creatures through the towns and villages of Austria...
Here is what Wikipedia says about this custom:
The central and eastern Alps of Europe are rich in folklore traditions dating back to Pagan (pre-Christian) times, with surviving elements amalgamated from Germanic, Celtic, Gaulish, Slavic and Raetian culture.
Ancient customs survived in the rural parts of Austria, Switzerland and Bavaria. In the Alps, the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and paganism has been an ambivalent one. While some customs survived only in the remote valleys inaccessible to the church's influence, other customs were actively assimilated over the centuries. In light of the dwindling rural population of the Alps, many customs have evolved into more modern interpretations.
The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine regions, the Krampus is a mythical horned figure represented as accompanying Saint Nicholas. Krampus acts as an anti–Saint Nicholas, who, instead of giving gifts to good children, gives warnings and punishments to the bad children. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly in the evening of December 5, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and whips and bells.
This are some pictures from today's Krampus event in my hometown Moedling...