December 6th was the feast day of St. Nicholas. This also means it was Nikolaustag in Germany! It is tradition for children to put their boots (or shoes, nowadays) outside their bedroom door in hopes of receiving treats and small gifts from Nikolaus for being good throughout the year. These gifts usually consist of sweets or cookies, fruit or small toys. If a child has been naughty, they are left with birch twigs. Nikolaus or the Weihnachtsmann is said to resemble what we envision in the US as Santa Claus.
In some parts of Germany, Austria and other areas around the Alps, it is believed that Nikolaus has a companion known as Krampus. Krampus resembles a devil and is responsible for distributing “gifts” to the naughty children, such as the twigs or lumps of coal.
Krampus is the Austrian name, but he is also known as Knecht Ruprecht in Germany, Schmutzli in Switzerland, Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands and Flanders and Belsnickel in the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition.
- Krampus: The Grinch That Saved Christmas (burners.me)
- Krampus, The Christmas Demon (timbrannan.blogspot.com)
- An Iron Plantation Christmas at Hopewell Furnace (readingeagle.com)
- Happy St Nicholas Day! Schönes Nikolausfest! (scottkaelenofficial.wordpress.com)
- Krampustime is Coming! (andrewhammel.typepad.com)
- Advent Calender 6 Happy Nikolaustag (arihoma.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Traditions from Germany (stcharlescountyhistory.org)
- Der Nikolaus (eleanornicklason.wordpress.com)
- Who is Krampus and what does he have to do with Christmas? (therealpaulkerr.wordpress.com)
- Gruss Vom Krampus (raven1845.wordpress.com)