Friday, December 24, 2010

Santas Evil Helpers

According to myths dating from the 18th century, Saint Nicholas often operated in the companionship of a devil. Having triumphed over evil, it was said that on Saint Nicholas Eve, the devil was shackled and made his slave.   In the 1840s, a Nordic folklore elf called Tomte or Nisse started to deliver the Christmas presents in Denmark.  The Tomte was portrayed as a short, bearded man dressed in grey clothes and a red hat.  The original folklore of Saint Nicolas has many parallels with the Germanic myths of Odin.  These include the beard, hat and spear (nowadays a staff) and the cloth bag held by the servants to capture naughty children.  There are various explanations of the origins of Santas helpers, many involve an enslaved devil.  In some interpretations the helper represents the devil, in others it represents Nörwi, the black father of the night, who defeated the devil and accompanies Odin.

Another, story is of Zwarte Piet (meaning Black Pete) originally was an enslaved devil forced to assist his captor.  Zwarte Piet is usually depicted with the same staff of birch as Odins helper Nörwi.  Piet often dealt harsh punishment to children who were bad.  In the 19th century Black Pete became to be depicted as a Moor in the colourful pantaloons and feathered cap of a Renaissance page.  Coinciding with a story that Saint Nicolas liberated an Ethiopian slave boy called 'Piter' (from Saint Peter), and the boy was so grateful he decided to stay with St Nicolas as a helper.  Because of the post modern trend of political correctness, Zwarte Piet has become a modern servant whose face is blackened by soot from climbing through chimneys.

In German folklore, Knecht Ruprecht (translates as Farmhand Rupert or Servant Rupert) is a companion of Saint Nicholas and is sometimes associated with Saint Rupert.  He appeared in homes on Christmas Eve, as a man with a long beard wearing fur or pea-straw, sometimes carrying a long staff and a bag of ashes, and wore little bells on his clothes (like the modern elves).  Knecht Ruprecht asks children if they can pray. If they can, they receive apples, nuts, and gingerbread.  If they cannot, he beats the children with his bag of ashes.  Ruprecht was a common name for the Devil in Germany.  He was also known as Hans Ruprecht, Rumpknecht, and Rû Clås (Rough Nicholas).

A French character who accompanies St. Nicholas in his rounds during St. Nicholas' Day (6 December) is Le Père Fouettard (translates as The whipping Father).  The Whipping Father dispenses lumps of coal and floggings to naughty children, while St. Nicholas gives gifts to the well behaved.  The most common depiction of Le Père Fouettard is a man with a sinister face dressed in dark robes with scraggly unkempt hair and a long beard. He is armed with either a whip, a large stick.  Some incarnations of the character have him wearing a wicker back pack in which children can be placed and carried away.  Often, his face is darkened to varying degrees and is sometimes depicted identically to Black Pete.

Then there's the Icelandic Yule Lads (no they're not the latest boy band from Iceland) these guys are more like the modern day depiction of Santas elves only evil.  Their number and description varied greatly depending on location, with each Lad ranging from mere pranksters to homicidal monsters who eat children.  Modern consensus is that there are 13 of them.  The Yule Lads are traditionally said to be the sons of mountain-dwelling trolls.  They are often depicted with the Yuletide Cat, a beast that eats children who don't receive new clothes in time for Christmas.  The Yule Lads come to town over the last 13 nights before Christmas, each staying for two weeks before departing.  The English translations of their Icelandic names are: Sheep-Cote Clod, Gully Gawk, Stubby, Spoon-Licker, Pot-Scraper, Bowl-Licker, Door-Slammer, Skyr-Gobbler, Sausage-Swiper, Window-Peeper, Door-Sniffer, Meat-Hook & Candle-Beggar.

Traditions in the alpine regions have characters that are more bestial and range from a goat to an actual demon or devil.  The most popular of these characters is Krampus.  Krampus is prevalent in Austria, Hungary, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and northern Italy.  Krampus is represented by an demon-like creature usually with a basket on his back to carry away bad children and dump them into the pits of Hell.  In some rural areas the tradition also includes birching (corporal punishment with a birch rod) by Krampus, especially of young girls.  Switzerland has Schmutzli he enjoys beating naughty children, sometimes kidnapping and often eating them.  Other companions of  St Nicholas through Europe include Klaubauf, Bartel, Bellzebub, and Cert (The Devil).  Regardless of the name he goes by, he seems to enjoy dishing out corpral punnishment and takes a hard line, zero tollerance towards naughty children.

In some traditions, the bringer of gifts and the bringer of punishment are fused into one.  In Nordic countries the original bringer of gifts at Christmas time was the Yule Goat, a sometimes bipedal fawn like figure with horns.  Giving Santa himself the appearance of his demonic servant.  Rumpelklas, Pelzebock, Pelznickel, Belzeniggl, and Belsnickel are other names for this demonic Santa around the place.  The idea of Santa being a devil go a long way toward explaining a lot of things.  More so it is evident that Santa Clause is in fact Satan himself!  They are two sides to the one coin, the evidence in irrefutable.  On top of the generations of historical stories mentioned above, stories as concrete as Santa is, there is also the following evidence:

Santa is an anagram for Satan.   St Nicholas day falls on the 6th, 6 is believed to be the devils number.  In medieval plays the devil’s most common line as he entered the stage was “Ho, ho, ho!”.  Santa is sometimes called St Nick, Satan is sometimes referred to as Old Nick.  Both Santa and Satan are associated with hoof prints in the snow.  Both Santa and Satan are well know for their beards and are both frequently depicted wearing red suits.  Not to mention that they both heavily associated with the Christian religion.  Neither have any concerns about jumping into fires or hot embers.  But most condemningly the modern Santa and Satan are never seen in the same room at the same time.

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