Devils chase children in Czech village's Christmas custom

Masked devils march through the village, rattling their chains and clanking bells, going door-to-door to search for badly-behaved children.

A pre-Christmas tradition

The sinister-looking pre-Christmas tradition in the Czech village of Valasska Polanka is actually a celebration of the 4th-century Saint Nicholas, who appears in costume to soothe the children with sweets.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Good fun'

Chased in the snow by 40 fearsome figures in sheepskin masks, the village youngsters saw it as good fun.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'They chase us, it is awesome'

"The tradition is beautiful, we enjoy it, we run away from those devils, they chase us, it is awesome," said Vaclav Kozubik a teenager from Valasska Polanka, some 330 km southeast of the capital Prague.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Mask with a story

One of the devils, wearing a 40-year-old mask once used by his father, was critical of novelties like the Krampus masks worn in the Christmas period across central Europe.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Cerny Cert'

"The (younger) lads are influenced by the Krampus a bit, they are trying to adjust their horns, but we older (ones) don't like it much; we want our Polanka tradition to go on," said one masked man who gave his name as Cerny Cert - meaning Dark Devil.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Devils overrun the village

Revellers dressed as devils walk through the village of Valasska Polanka during a traditional Saint Nicholas parade near the town of Vsetin, Czech Republic, December 7, 2019.

(Photograph:Reuters)