Participants dressed as demon-like creatures roam streets to chase away evil spirits in the Perchten gathering near Kirchseeon, Germany. Perchten are the mythical entourage of Perchta, a goddess in ancient southern German pagan tradition, and are fearsome creatures with tusks and horns and covered in hair.
The tradition dates back to the 16th century and is also related to traditions of Krampus, Teifel, Klausen and La Befana, all creatures in the German, Austrian, Italian and Swiss alpine regions whose duties include instilling fear into naughty children. During the parades, unmarried men are dressed in straw or skins with wooden masks or skins over their heads.
In Austria, legend said that there lived a witch called Perchta who would visit homes on her feast day of January 5 to ensure people had eaten fish and gruel in her honor. She would split open the stomach of those who had failed to do so and replace their innards with pebbles and straw before sewing them up so they appeared to have died in their sleep.
On the annual Krampus night in early December, revellers in Tyrol, Austria, celebrate Krampus, a demon-like companion of St. Nicholas (represented by a wooden mask with animal horns), who punishes bad kids.