Wilder Mann 6, 2010
The Krampus, a legend in Alpine countries, is said to punish misbehaving children during the winter Yule season. In contrast, Saint Nicholas, rewards well-behaved children with gifts.
Caretos, Lazarim, Portugal, 2010-2011
“I found myself in front of something very radical, no face,” said Fréger.“It was more of a character with a mask and a focus where the body is more important than the face itself.”
Wilder Mann 92, 2010
Initially Fréger planned on covering 12 countries, but the more he worked on the project, the more he found himself traveling.
Laufr (Jumper), Třebič, Czech Republic, 2010–2011
Fréger said many of the traditions had a lot in common, regardless of the country they came from.
Wilder Mann 25, Wilder Mann , 2010
In full-length portraits, the artist's photographs show celebrants enveloped in traditional costumes, crafted from layers of animal skins, local plants, bones and antlers.
Babugeri, Bansko, Bulgaria, 2010–2011
Fréger first saw a costumed “Wild Man” while watching a friend’s show in Lyon, France.
Cerbul (Stag), Corlata, Romania, 2010-2011
Fréger said many of the traditions are full of joy.
Ursul (Bear), Palanca, Romania, 2010–2011
The Pagan concept of a “Wild Man” is based on changing seasons and rites of passage.
Boes, Ottana, Sardinia, Italy, 2010
“There was a slight touch of universality because a lot of the groups were doing something similar without knowing one another," said Fréger.
Macinula, Cisiec, Poland, 2010
"Many of the festivities were focused on animals and vegetation, you could photograph someone dressed like a bear for example in Portugal or Spain or Romania. To me this was really exciting and interesting,” said Fréger.
Photographer Charles Fréger spent two years journeying through 18 European countries to document still-practiced pagan rituals. Here is a selection of his images.