Is that beer in the shoes on the right? Just got to love good ole St. Nik! The story of St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra (Greece) who died on December 6th, dates back to the 4th century. He is said to appear in the company of Knecht Ruprecht, "Knecht" meaning "servant". Historically, Ruprecht was a dark and sinister figure wearing a tattered robe with a big sack on his back in which, as a legend says, he would put all naughty children. St. Nicholas also appears together with St. Peter, with an angel, the Christchild (Christkindl*) As the gift-giving function of St. Nikolaus began to shift to the splendor of the candle-lit Christmas tree and emphasis on the birth of Christ, Knecht Ruprecht became the servant and companion of the Christchild. In this role Ruprecht became the patron saint of Christmas and was called "Weihnachtsmann," Father Christmas or Santa Claus. *Note my post about the Nuernberger Christkindlsmarkt. Judgement Day! Wouldn't seeing that coming down the mountain just scare the tar out of you? (...even if you didn't do anything wrong.) Maybe we need some of that good old fashioned European Religion to intimindate our bad guys over here. I see the title of a movie called "St. Nikolaus and his gang of Ruprechts" a-roop, a-roop, a-roop...(actually, these guys traveling with Sankt Nikolaus above are called Krampus. They are from Germany's neighbor, Austria, where the Saint's assistants look and act even scarier than in Germany (if you can believe that), but just look at this video:
(Personally, I think some people need a little foretaste of hell to make them behave decently, but then, that's just my opinion - I could be wrong!)
17th century European history reveals that St. Nikolaus has traveled with an array of unsavory servants, known as Zwarte Piet, Cert, Knecht Ruprecht, Krampus, Black Peter. Read this to learn more.
Happy Holy Days to you and yours!
(be sure your 5th window is open on your Advent's Calendar)