A different Father Christmas Story
I feel I have to start with a little disclaimer: *There’s a lot of humor in everything I say and there’s a lot of truth in humor. I leave it to you to figure out what’s what. Overall I think you shouldn’t take things too seriously here.*
Humor is a difficult thing to convey over cultures. Which is why I – in good German tradition – abstain from it completely. I’ll just focus on facts that can easily be proven wrong or right if so desired. If humor or science are not your thing, no worries. Just ignore this message.
Did you know that Santa and his helper are only sidekicks in the whole Christmas story in Germany. They got the time slot that nobody really cares about, the 6th of December, Nikolaustag.
Real Santa, whose long name is “Saint Nicholas” or in German: Nikolaus von Myra, hinting at his origin in today’s Turkey near Antalya, seems to have been quite a good fellow as amongst others he gave away his heritage to those in need. After all he was sainted, right.
His sidekick is the rather feared Knecht Ruprecht (Farmhand Rupert) which Santa found as a child in the wild and raised him to reward good kids and punish the baddies. Wikipedia says: “According to tradition, 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.” In my times, Rupert would use a “Rute” (f), a rod. Possibly a lot easier to clean up after using that.
Übrigens, Knecht Ruprecht is also called a Kinderschreck (=child scare).
When I was young, my uncle Udo would dress up as Santa (we couldn’t afford another bad actor at that time that could have played Rupert) and he would ask whether we’ve been “brave Kinder” (that’s a common false friend and means, “well behaved” which has got nothing to do with “brave” (=mutig)).
For a moment I thought this tradition was dead in Germany but then I remembered that 20 years ago when I lived in Freiburg, there was a Santa service which was looking for students to play Santa and I looked it up and found this homepage: https://nikolaus-zentrale.de. So if you are into scaring your kids into behaving well, don’t hesitate and sign up.
I think that’s a lot of German culture to take in for one mail. And you might wonder what does this all have to do with Santa German uh, SmarterGerman. Well, I don’t mind whether you still believe in Santa or not. Fairy tales are wonderful examples for the power of the human mind which you can make use of when learning German with SmarterGerman. And if you love to take a look behind the scenes, we got you covered as well 😉
PS: The Swiss are beating us Germans on that Ruprecht story by far. Just search for “Kinderfresserbrunnen” (literally: child eater well)
I have talked about the lovely German Christmas tradition of punishing naughty children with bags full of ashes and rods.
I guess it’s time for a more cheerful story of the Christkind, who brings the gifts to all children and doesn’t seem to be concerned about whether they behaved in the last year or not.
In many German families today, the Christkind is the one bringing the presents to all children. During the middle ages, it was still Santa (=saint Nicholas) that brought the presents (if you behaved well that was) but due to some pressure of the Protestants, who didn’t like saints, that event was pushed to the birthday of Jesus Christ and associated with him.
Today, children are writing letters to the Christkind in which they express their materialistic wishes which may or may not come true. I have good reasons to assume that the Christkind heavily relies on the donations made by the child’s parents to fulfill those wishes.
Nevertheless, the official address of the Christkind, who lives in Himmelstadt, by the way that’s Heaven City, can be found here.
Why don’t you make a wish and share it with Christkind? Who knows, it might be heard. The only downside is that the Christkind can only read German. So I guess there’s no other way than to learn German to the extent that you can get your wishes granted.
You can also share your letters with me first and I collect them all before publishing them on my blog so that Christkind can read them in one go. It loves efficiency.
My best wishes go to you and your families and friends. May you stay healthy and enjoy this crazy existence and may life turn out to be exactly what you always wished it to be.
Frohe Weihnachten oder Chanukka