22 Dec 2017

You cannot stop the devils from marching in Slovakia

A seemingly minor Christmas festivity in the town of Piešťany exposed tensions between religious and lay residents. As the date of the festive “march of the devils” approached, some prepared their outfits and others -- protest banners.

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
You cannot stop the devils from marching in Slovakia  - NewsMavens
Devil mask. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

religion, protests, politics

The “devils’ march”, or "Krampuslaufy" as it is called in Austria, is originally tied to Catholic tradition. The devil Krampus is an alpine specter that appears during the Advent and Christmas season. According to legend, Krampus punishes evil adults and throws naughty children into a huge basket on his back.

Today, the march is merely a Christmas festivity -- an occasion to dress-up and fool around popular in Austria. This year, a shopping mall in Piešťany was inspired to organize a similar event in Slovakia. It turns out, however, that not everyone considered it such a fun idea.

"Do we really want to celebrate evil? Put the devil at the center of attention? What values ​​do we teach to our children and the youth?” 2,500 people asked in a petition, which requested the mayor of Piešťany to ban the parade.

Members of the regional parliament joined the protest under the leadership of Marián Urbánek from the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). Yet, despite the fact that the mayor of the town was also not in favor of the event, there was not much he could do.

No Slovak legislation bans devils from marching in the streets.

The petition, that defined the march as a satanic event, was signed by more than 2,000 people. Yet in the end, a lot more took part in it and enjoyed this bizarre tradition.

Details from the story:

  • The Slovak "march of the devils" was inspired by the traditional Austrian Krampuslauf.
  • It took place for the first time in Piešťany on December 17.
  • Religious inhabitants were afraid that the parade would stir negative emotions during Advent. To them, it was a satanic celebration.
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