No, the above picture is not a Cosplayer, Ren Faire-attendee, 4-Chaner, LARPer or furry. That’s an Alpine villager dressed as a Perchten, an attendant of the Slovenian goddess Frau Perchta or Pehta Baba. The costume is part of a midwinter ceremony in which villagers dressed as Perchten tromp through town to scare away evil spirits and stray dead souls.
Originally, the word Perchten (plural of Perchta) referred to the female masks representing the entourage of Frau Perchta or Pehta Baba as is known in Slovenia, an ancient goddess (some claim a connection to the Nordic goddess Freyja, though this is uncertain). Traditionally, the masks were displayed in processions (Perchtenlauf) during the last week of December and first week of January, and particularly on 6 January. The costume consists of a brown wooden mask and brown or white sheep’s skin… The Roman Catholic Church attempted to prohibit the sometimes rampant practise in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but later condoned it, resulting in a revival.
Which is evidence to me that being born 800 years before the release of World of Warcraft is no reason not to start playing.
I often suspect that nerd culture, a large majority of which looks to pagan Europe for inspiration?