11 – Ruprecht – Knecht or Knight?
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.
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