Schemenlauf

Schemenlauf

Between January 26 and March 3; week preceding Ash Wednesday
The Schemenlauf, or Running of the Spectres, takes place during the Carnival season at Imst, Austria, in the Tirolean Alps. The roots of this traditional Austrian celebration can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when people believed that the densely wooded mountain slopes were populated by good and evil spirits with the power to prevent or promote the growth of seeds in the ground. To ward off the evil spirits, they resorted to mummery and wore frightening masks ( see Perchtenlauf) as they danced through the village making as much noise as they could. Originally the festival may have been a way of welcoming spring.
Only men are allowed to participate in the Schemenlauf at Imst. About 400 Schemen ("spectres") join the procession, often stopping to invite spectators to join them in the traditional circular dance. Visitors come from all over the world to see this colorful festival, which is followed by a night of revelry reminiscent of Mardi Gras celebrations elsewhere.
CONTACTS:
Tourismusverband Imst-Gurgltal
Johannesplatz 4
Imst, A-6460 Austria
43-5412-6910-0; fax: 43-5412-6910-8
www.imst.at
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 29