Santa and his dark companions5 Min Read

We associate Christmas with Santa Claus ,  also known as Saint NicholasKris KringleFather Christmas, or simply Santa, has origins in  in Western Christian culture, he is believed to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved or good children on Christmas ,Santa Claus is generally depicted as a heavy , jolly, white-bearded man—sometimes wearing  spectacles and wearing a red coat with white fur collar and cuffs, white-fur-cuffed red trousers, a red hat with white fur and black leather belt and boots and who carries a bag full of gifts for children. This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, children’s books, films, and advertising over the years .

 

Santa Claus is said to make lists of  good , bad or naughty children throughout the world,and to deliver presents, including toys, and candy to all of the well-behaved children in the world, and coal to all the misbehaved children, during the night of Christmas Eve. He does this  with the aid of his elves, who make the toys in his workshop at the North Pole, and his flying reindeer, who pull his sleigh. He is commonly portrayed as living at the North Pole, and often laughing in a way that sounds like “ho ho ho”.

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Companions of Santa – We all know Santa has helpers like elves the riendeers ,Mrs Claus . But Santa has a few Dark Companions too who accompany him throughout his travel across the globe during Christmas eve, These characters act as a contrast  to the benevolent Christmas father , threatening to thrash or abduct disobedient children.

These companions are -There are many names given to these dark companions like  Knecht Ruprecht in Germany, Krampus in Austria,  Klaubauf  is the name of these companions in avaria,  Bartel in Styria, Belsnickel in Pennsylvania, Schmutzli in Switzerland; and Little Babushka in Russia and the list goes on , however lets check out the main ones below

Knecht Ruprecht  He is known to be  Sainta’s  most familiar attendant in Germany.  Ruprecht is sometimes said to have begun as a farmhand and some say he was a wild foundling whom Saint Nicholas raises from childhood.He wears a black or brown robe with a pointed hood,He can be seen carrying a long staff and a bag of ashes, and on occasion wears little bells on his clothes, Sometimes he rides on a white horse, and sometimes he is accompanied by fairies or men with blackened faces dressed as old women.Knecht Ruprecht asks children whether they can pray. If they can, they receive apples, nuts and gingerbread. If they cannot, he hits the children with his bag of ashes or gifts them  lumps of coal, sticks, and stones.  The word Knecht in German means servant or farmhand. And in a sense, Knecht Ruprecht does act as St Nicholas’s helper, since they travel together, and he does all the heavy lifting.

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Krampus – Krampus is a horned figure , he is half goat half demon , during Christmas he punishes the misbehaved and bad children , he is one of the companions of Saint Nicholas , who rewards the well behaved children and gives them gifts on Christmas eve. Although Krampus appears in many variations,his  common physical characteristics are like this – He is hairy, usually brown or black, and has the hooves and horns of a goat. he has a long, pointed tongue and  fangs.He thrashes the chains for dramatic effect these chains are sometimes having bells of various sizes .

He also carries  bundles of birch branches with which he occasionally swats children .Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back this is to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell.

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 Belsnickel – Belsnickel is another  companion of Saint Nicholas Unlike other companions , Belsnickel does not accompany Saint Nicholas but instead visits alone  and combines both the threatening and the benign aspects which in other traditions are divided between the Saint Nicholas and the companion figure.Belsnickel is a man wearing furs and sometimes a mask and has a  long tongue. He is typically very ragged and disheveled. He wears torn, tattered, and dirty clothes, and he carries a switch in his hand with which to beat naughty children, but also has  cakes, candies, and nuts for good children.In some areas he was known as Kriskinkle, Beltznickle and sometimes as the Christmas woman. Children then not only saw the mysterious person, but felt him or rather his stripes upon their backs with his switch. He would make his appearance some hours after dark, thoroughly disguised, especially the face, which would sometimes be covered with a hideously ugly phiz – generally wore a female garb – hence the name Christmas woman .

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Zwarte Piet (Black Pete)-This  character is part of the annual feast of St. Nicholas,  when presents and accompanying sweets are distributed to children, The characters of Zwarte Pieten appear only in the weeks before Saint Nicholas’s feast, first when the saint is welcomed with a parade as he arrives in the country (generally by boat, having traveled from Madrid, Spain). The tasks of the Zwarte Pieten are mostly to amuse children, and to scatter kruidnotenpepernoten, and Strooigoed (special Sinterklaas sweets) for those who come to meet the saint as he visits schools, stores, and other places.

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