Tourists in Austria have been shocked by a “terrifying” Christmas tradition where people dress up in creepy costumes and run through the streets with sticks.
British TikTok star Max Balegde was one of the foreigners caught up in the tradition of Krampuslauf (Krampus Run) this week.
Krampus is a horned half-goat, half-demon folklore figure that is said to scare and punish children who have misbehaved.
“I’m in this small Austrian town about to go out and I’ve just been informed that today an annual tradition is happening where hundreds of people dress up as Krampus and roam around the streets attacking people,” Mr Balegde said in a video.
He said he initially laughed it off as a joke but was told: “No it’s not funny. You’ll get whipped. It hurts. Make sure you don’t go outside.”
The video then cut to Mr Balegde screaming while running from a Krampus on a snow covered street.
Another video showed a Krampus whipping the ground near a friend’s feet.
He wasn’t the only one to be surprised by the tradition.
An American tourist shared a TikTok of a Christmas market interrupted by a group of Krampus running with flares and whacking onlookers with their sticks.
One person was even tackled to the ground.
A Canadian expat living in Austria shared that it was “the biggest culture shock so far”.
“I actually didn’t realise they actually hit you (hard enough to bruise!!?!?),” she wrote.
The people dressing up as Krampus wear animal skins and carved wooden masks, as well as bells tied to their costume and hold long sticks.
Videos on TikTok of this year’s Krampuslauf have had millions of views as people on social media discover the tradition for the first time.
“OMG they CHASE YOU?!” one shocked person wrote.
“I would have been screaming, crying, running for my life,” added another.
“What the heck is going on!!!!!!!” exclaimed a third.
“I live in Australia and I’ve never heard of this,” said an Aussie.
Some Austrians warned the tradition in the cities was much more formal and safer than regional areas.
“When I was a kid one of them broke my arm. Never meet Krampus in an Austrian village,” one wrote.
“In the city it’s actually more beautiful (tradition wise) than on the countryside! NEVER go to a Krampuslauf on the countryside,” said another.