Czech has a unique tradition where a group of demon masks will chase children in celebrations before Christmas.
Reporting from Reuters on Sunday (12/08/2019), the masked devil walked marching through the village in Valasska Polanka, which is located about 330 kilometers from the capital city of Prague, the Czech Republic. These demons play chains and ring bells, then go to the houses of people to look for naughty children.
This tradition is actually a celebration of St. Nicholas, who calms children with candy after they see the creepy devil. Saint Nicholas was a bishop of the ancient city of Myra who lived in the 3rd and 4th centuries. He is famous for his kindness and generosity. His figure is also often called to inspire the creation of Santa Claus.
Even though the people in the devil’s costume look scary, the children are actually happy with the presence of 40 masked figures from the sheepskin.
“Tradition is beautiful, we enjoyed it, we escaped from the demons, they chased us, it was extraordinary,” said Vaclav Kozubik, a teenager from the village.
One devil told me that he wore a mask that was 40 years old. This mask used to belong to his father. He also criticized new costumes such as the Krampus mask worn during the Christmas period throughout Central Europe.
“The (younger) children are a little influenced by Krampus, they are trying to adjust their horns, but we older don’t like it very much; we want the Polanka tradition to continue,” said a masked man who called his name Cerny Cert which means Dark Devil.
The mask used seems to have existed since the Pagan times, before Christianity entered Europe, as reported by the Associated Press. This mask was used by people in mountainous areas to defend themselves against winter demons.