50th EPISODE – AND WHERE IS PAULA?
50 episodes in 59 days with few lapses.
On this occasion, I would have loved to write an exciting cycling tour story. But where the hell is Paula without cell phone reception?
I had a real Déjà-vu concerning my childhood. After shopping, I ran into a group of “Perchten” (people dressed as devil-like creatures that are supposed to drive out bad souls according to a pagan tradition). Today on the 5thof December the “Krampusse” (a Krampus – half-goat, half-demon – accompanies Saint Nicholas and during the Christmas season he punishes children for misbehaviour) and “Perchten” walk through the streets, nowadays in defined areas.
When Paula and I, 10 and 12 years old, went to school in Lienz (Osttirol), “Krampuse” and “Perchten” were walking through every street and alley on the 5thand 6thof December. We didn’t know this tradition. We were warned by our fellow students and were especially careful after sunset. Even from a distance we could hear the loud clank of the heavy bronze bells that weigh nearly one kilogramme and are fixed onto their hips on our way back from the afternoon lessons. We looked for a path away from them. Nevertheless, these “dark creatures” caught and encircled us.
With their ugly masks and shaggy fur, and the rattling of their chains we were frightened to death. I can still remember the beating of their wickers or rods of horses’ tails and the tears. The weals on our legs wouldn’t disappear for days. At the same time, it was a game. “Rodmarks” were considered as tests of courage and “trophies”. For weeks, they were the only topic of conversation among us teenagers and they taught us not to fight back or at least to run faster. A spectacle for many years.
To inform our readers from New Zealand:
The “Krampus” is the companion of St. Nicholas who visits well-behaved children. He looks into his golden book and lists the good deeds that each child did over the year. But also the bad behaviours.
Paula’s and my list of misbehaviour was always long. That’s why the Krampus always rattled his chains louder than usual and showed us the dreaded rod. Every year we promised again to improve and received St. Nicholas’s bag with a half-guilty conscience. Filled with chocolate, nuts, and tangerines.