Originally, the word Perchten (plural of Perchta) referred to the female masks representing the entourage of an ancient goddess, Frau Perchta, or Pehta Baba as it is known in Slovenia.
Some claim a connection to the Nordic goddess Freyja, though this is uncertain.
Chalandamarz is an ancient festival celebrated by the Romansh speaking part of the Swiss Canton Graubünden.
It is celebrated on the first of March and marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring.
The central and eastern Alps of Europe are rich in folklore traditions dating back to pre-Christian times, with surviving elements amalgamated from Germanic, Gaulish (Gallo-Roman), Slavic, (Carantanian) and Raetian culture.
Ancient customs survived in the rural parts of Austria, Switzerland, Bavaria, Slovenia, western and northern Croatia and north eastern Italy in the form of dance, art, processions, rituals and games.
Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly in the evening of December 5, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and whips and bells.
This figure is believed to originate from stories of house spirits such as kobolds or elves.
In recent times Krampus and Perchten have increasingly been displayed in a single event, leading to a loss of distinction of the two.
Perchten are associated with midwinter and the embodiment of fate and the souls of the dead.
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