The Compainions of Saint Nicholas

This morning I’ve been intrigued by this post on the WFMU blog, about companions of Saint Nicholas / Father Christmas / Santa Claus. Try a Google Image search for “Krampus” or “Schmutzli” for some pure Christmas evilness. Here’s the Wikipedia article on companions of Saint Nicholas, which features some great anecdotes, such as;

The companion of the French St. Nicholas, Père Fouettard, is said to be the butcher of three children. St. Nicholas discovered the murder and resurrected the three children. He also shamed Père Fouettard, who, in repentance, became a servant of St. Nicholas.

…and…

In some of the Ruprecht traditions the children would be summoned to the door to perform tricks, such as a dance or singing a song to impress upon Santa and Ruprecht that they were indeed good children. Those who performed badly would be beaten soundly by Servant Ruprecht, and those who performed well were given a gift or some treats. Those who performed badly enough or had committed other misdeeds throughout the year were put into Ruprecht’s sack and taken away, variously to Ruprecht’s home in the Black Forest, or to be tossed into a river.

…and here’s a Christmas tradition that sounds a lot more fun than Carols by Candlelight…

Today, Schladming, a town in Styria, over 1200 “Krampus” gather from all over Austria wearing goat-hair costumes and carved masks, carrying bundles of sticks used as switches, and swinging cowbells to warn of their approach. They are typically young men in their teens and early twenties and are generally intoxicated. They roam the streets of this typically quiet town and hit people with their switches.

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