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St. Nicholas and devils parade in Czech villages

Updated : 2019-12-08 09:55:48

Dozens of people in grim reaper and devil costumes accompany St. Nicholas on his journey through the village of Valasska Polanka in this eastern corner of the Czech Republic. It's an old pre-Christmas tradition that has been surviving for centuries in a few villages in the Wallachia region. The custom reportedly dates from the pagan era before Christianity, when the masks helped the people of mountainous region defend themselves against the demons of winter. St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop in the ancient town of Myra who lived in the third and fourth centuries and was known for his goodness and generosity. He is said to have inspired the creation of Santa Claus.

Revellers depicting devil and a grim reaper brave a snowstorm during a traditional St Nicholas procession in the village of Valasska Polanka, Czech Republic.  (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Revellers depicting devil and a grim reaper brave a snowstorm during a traditional St Nicholas procession in the village of Valasska Polanka, Czech Republic.  (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
This pre-Christmas tradition has survived for centuries in a few villages in the eastern part of the country. The whole group parades through the village for the weekend, going from door to door.  (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
This pre-Christmas tradition has survived for centuries in a few villages in the eastern part of the country. The whole group parades through the village for the weekend, going from door to door.  (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
St.Nicholas presents the kids with sweets. The devils wearing homemade masks of sheepskin and the white creatures representing death with scythes frighten them. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
St.Nicholas presents the kids with sweets. The devils wearing homemade masks of sheepskin and the white creatures representing death with scythes frighten them. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
The custom reportedly dates from the pagan era before Christianity, when the masks helped the people of mountainous region defend themselves against the demons of winter. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
The custom reportedly dates from the pagan era before Christianity, when the masks helped the people of mountainous region defend themselves against the demons of winter. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop in the ancient town of Myra who lived in the third and fourth centuries and was known for his goodness and generosity. He is said to have inspired the creation of Santa Claus. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop in the ancient town of Myra who lived in the third and fourth centuries and was known for his goodness and generosity. He is said to have inspired the creation of Santa Claus. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Revellers depicting grim reapers and devils pose for a photo during a traditional St Nicholas procession in the village of Valasska Polanka. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Revellers depicting grim reapers and devils pose for a photo during a traditional St Nicholas procession in the village of Valasska Polanka. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Revellers prepare for a traditional St Nicholas procession. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Revellers prepare for a traditional St Nicholas procession. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Revellers depicting grim reapers and devils pose for a photo. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Revellers depicting grim reapers and devils pose for a photo. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A young child dressed as a devil waits for a traditional St Nicholas procession. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A young child dressed as a devil waits for a traditional St Nicholas procession. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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