11 – Ruprecht – Knecht or Knight?


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Knecht Ruprecht – Santa’s little Helper

Traditions – again.
On December 6th German children get a visitor: Saint Nicholas comes along to bring presents today, in former times – in this case former times are back to my childhood years – the stuff was “apples, nuts, and cookies or sweets”.

Saint Nicholas was probably a model for the figure “Santa Claus”.

In German folklore Saint Nicholas got a helper too, not a little one, more a big, dark and grumpy one.
He is called “Knecht Ruprecht” or “Knight Rupert”, as I learned today.

Knecht Ruprecht is wild and dark, yes he looks a bit like “Hagrid” of “Harry Potter”.

He wears a special backpack, kind of pannier and he has a switch, a rod with him.

His purpose?
To punish the bad children.

Children where asked if they where able to pray.
If so, they were rewarded a little bag with goodies.
If not, they had to meet the switch.

Yes, parents used the figure of “Knecht Ruprecht” as a pedagogical method.
I won’t discuss that further.

A famous German author, Theodor Storm, has written a poem called “Knecht Ruprecht”:

Translation Thomas Feickert


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4 thoughts on “11 – Ruprecht – Knecht or Knight?

  1. Hello Helen,

    I saw that you have my English-Translation of Theodor Storm’s famous german Poem “Knecht Rupprecht” on your Blog.

    Thank you for this…:-)

    As I am a german native Speaker, please tell me, at what parts of my Translation my English isn’t correct, so I can improve the Translation.

    Thank you


    Thomas Feickert

  2. Very interesing. My wife sometimes quotes Chaucer’s ‘knicht in shining armour’ although I am not sure whether she is mispronouncing it for effect….

    • interesting – and thanks for sharing 🙂
      so “knicht” seems to have a similar sound than “knecht”?
      german word knecht refers to farmer servant

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