One of the perks of living in a new country is experiencing a whole new culture. This is a big part of why I decided to move to Austria, to live somewhere new and discover a different culture. When I packed my bags eight months ago though, I had never in my wildest dreams imagined the Krampus.

It’s a regional tradition, which stems from farmers looking for an income over the winter. Groups of young men dress as demons, and parade down the streets beating women and children with branches. It really is as crazy as it sounds. So behave kids, or the Krampus will come and get you.

Half-demon, half-goat, all devilishly terrifying. Think ‘horror film’, ‘herd of orcs’ Lord of the Rings style, or even sometimes ‘abominable snowman’. They wear cow bells and chains, and the combination of clanging with the growling, long horns, smoke machines, flares and heavy metal music is quite an experience. Standing in the crowd and watching the Krampus stalk towards you, wondering if you’re going to be whipped, is an adrenaline rush like no other.

I experienced two Krampuslauf (Krampus runs) this December; my legs were beaten, my hat was stolen, my fingers nearly fell off from the cold, but my only regret is that I didn’t get to see a third run. Here are some pictures from my friends and I, to inspire you to be good for Santa/St. Nick.