Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

The Öblarner Krampusspiel – Krampus Play in Öblarn

Applicant: Ing. Gert Planitzer
Province: Styria
Domain: Performing arts
Year of inclusion: 2014

The Öblarner Krampusspiel belongs to the genre of sacred folk theater (see “The Reither Nikolausspiel”), which – above all during the 18th century, in the wake of Austria’s re-Catholicization – was part of the religious and moral instruction of the common people. The Öblarner Krampusspiel, as one of the last surviving Styrian folk theater traditions, is put on by amateur performers every year in early December, taking place both in farmhouses and as public performances on the market square. The scripts for the play’s individual figures – such as the Hunters, Lucifer and his retinue, the Smith, the “Habergoas” (a cheerful and naughty character with a billy goat’s head) and Death – are learned via a tradition that is largely oral in nature, only having been put to paper during the 1980s. The first written mention of the Krampusspiel in Öblarn was by Archduke Johann of Austria, who saw this play while a guest at the nearby palace Schloss Gstatt in 1816.