St Nikolaus Tag; in Germany and other central European countries, this is celebrated with the children placing their shoes outside, hoping for gifts of tangerines and sweets the following day. Our Santa Claus of course. In Austria there is a similar tradition with Krampus und Knecht Ruprecht. I saw this one year in Gmunden and it was such fun. The Knecht Ruprecht is a figure all in black who is there to punish the naughty children. There was a parade, and copious amounts of Gluhwein was consumed by the adults. A little more detail below.
The story of Knecht Ruprecht stretches back to the late Middle Ages. The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations start early in December.
Knecht Ruprecht is the dark companion of St. Nicholas, who rewards good children each year with gifts and candy on December 6, St. Nicholas Day. The hell-bound counterpart is known by many names across the continent, such as Knecht Ruprecht, Black Peter, Schmutzli, or also as Krampus. Knecht Ruprecht is usually seen as as a half-demon, half goat looking figure bearing devilish horns and a monstrous tongue, but he can also be spotted as a sinister man with a black beard bearing a black furry robe, a chain and bells along with a bundle of birch sticks to punish the naughty children. According to German tradition he appears in homes on St. Nicholas Day to ask parents about their children’s behaviors. Depending on the response, he would give switches for use on the bad children, before dragging them into the woods.
Krampus, whose name is derived from the German word krampen, meaning claw, is celebrated on Krampusnacht, which takes place on the night before St. Nicholas’ Day. In South Germany, Austria, Northern Italy and other parts of Europe, party-goers dress up as the frightening looking Krampus creature bearing torches and stride through the streets terrifying children and adults alike. Krampusnacht is increasingly being celebrated in other parts of Europe such as Finland and France, as well as in many American cities.
I celebrated being back in Tier 2 by going swimming this morning. 11 of us in a full size pool, very pleasant, so I ploughed up and down to do my 30 lengths. I am a slow and unstylish swimmer, but I derive such pleasure from being in the water. I actually had a lane to myself, as there were to be two to a lane and as I was the last to arrive and the twelfth person did not show up, I came off pretty well. All this social distancing can have some advantages!
The second Sunday in Advent and I looked for an Advent carol in German. I came across this concert from the Frauenkirche in Dresden, which I visited not so long ago. It has been wonderfully restored. If you only look at the first few minutes, you will see the church and hear the choir.