Saturday, January 10, 2009

Knecht Ruprecht?

Part of my story takes place in Germany, so I was looking for some German customs to add verisimilitude, and I came across this dude. I'd heard of coal in stokings, of course, but I hadn't heard it was a tradition in Bavaria that Santa Claus has an evil helper named Knecht Ruprecht. In the nicer versions of his story, he "only" beats the children. But in some versions, he carries a bag around with him, like Santa, except Ruprecht's bag is empty, and is for tossing bad children into, so he can can take them back to the woods and throw the bag in the river and drown them (??!!).

Wow. Those Germans. Got Issues.


Blogger Patrick Rutigliano said...

Further elucidation:

11:12 PM  
Blogger Matthew Baugh said...

I'd heard of Krampus, and there's a more benign version called Svarte Piet.

Comic writer Andy Sidaris has a long story of his encounter with the Dutch Santa legends. He reports that, in the Low Countries, Santa is accompanied by 6-8 black men (there seems to be no exact count) who were once described as slaves but are now simply his black friends who do his bidding.

11:42 PM  
Blogger KPaffenroth said...

Dudes, you're focusing on the wrong part of the story: I'm cool with him having a sidekick! I'm a little shocked that he has a sidekick who fuckin' murders children!!!

12:13 AM  
Blogger Patrick Rutigliano said...

How else would he maintain a steady supply of elves aside from re-animation of the dead naughty children? I envision a Tall Man kind of thing going on...

12:26 AM  
Blogger Matthew Baugh said...

The Dutch Santa's 6-8 helpers are much more restrained. They will kick naughty children, or load them in a sack and carry them away ("away" is never specified, but drowning isn't specifically murder).

So this is the more "family-friendly" version. :)

A study of the origins of Santa's evil helper would be fascinating. If you find some good stuff I hope you'll share.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Gestalt said...

What I love most about this is on the eve before St. Nick's day some villages would have a big procession of Krampusen marching through the streets. In some villages there would be a man who would go door to door for a fee, and ask for the little boys and girls. Their parents would have them recite a poem or do a dance to show how well behaved they were, because Krampus could see right through them. Krampus would also list of all of the children's behavior issues, previously given by the parents which would spook them even more. Krampus doesn't kill children he teaches them how to behave. Ah those German Catholics and their methods.

3:42 PM  
Blogger GrimGnome said...

Hail Krampus. There are some rather amusing clips of Krampuslaufen on Youtube. That's a Christmas parade I can really get into!

11:38 PM  
Blogger Douglas F. Warrick said...

There is an amusing Venture Brothers short featuring Krampus and his bag-o-babies. Worth looking for, I tell ya.

10:16 AM  

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