This intimidating character, who first appeared in a German play in 1668, was one of the secular 'Dark Helpers' of Christkindl after the Protestant Reformation. Since the image of the angelic Christkindl did not frighten children into good behaviour, a menacing character carrying switches, such as Knecht Ruprecht, was just what was needed. He questioned the parents on their childrens' behaviour, leaving goodies for the deserving ones and a switch for use on naughty ones. His very appearance frightened the young children.
He is sometimes identified with other 'Dark Helpers' such as Pelznickel, (Nicholas in Furs) or Ru Klaas, (Rough Nicholas). Some tales have him carrying a sack of coal for the hearth fires or to leave for bad children.
The Nazi campaign to be rid of a Christian Christmas during the Second World War, favoured Knecht Ruprecht over Santa Claus (der Weihnachtsmann), identifying him with the Nordic pagan god 'Wotan'
Knecht Ruprecht: 16" (40.5 cm) - $225
Knecht Ruprecht: 28" (71 cm) - $425 (by order only)
This stern German character, also identified as 'Ru Klaas' (Rough Nicholas), 'Belsnickel' and 'Aschenklas' (Nicholas in Ashes), dressed in dark or shaggy clothing or all in furs or skins, was a secular replacement for St. Nicholas in Germany after the Protestant Reformation; a time when honouring saints was supposed to be banned.
The dour character, was introduced to the Middle American colonies by 19th. century German immigrants. Until late in the century, he would visit German households in Baltimore and Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve, carrying a bundle of switches for naughty children and treats for good ones. Even the good children were afraid that they might not have been good enough! Sometimes he accompanied St. Nicholas or Christkindl who were much more lenient. He was sometimes associated with 'Knecht Ruprecht'.
Pelznickel: 16" (40.5 cm) - $225
Pelznickel: 28" (71 cm) - $425 (by order only)
The gift-bringer replacing St. Nicholas after the Protestant Reformation was the Christ child. This figure, of course, could not be personified in Christmas pageants so a new figure representing the Christ child was created, 'Christkindl' (Christ child in English). She was an angelic-like figure all in white, with or without wings. In some tales she accompanies Weihnachtsmann, assisting him with gift-bringing; others believed she traveled alone.
Christkindl's gentle appearance was not a threat to misbehaving children; therefore she required the assistance of the 'Dark Helpers': Knecht Ruprecht of Germany, Krampus and Cert from Central Europe among others.
When Santa couldn't make it to the troops in the First World War at Christmas time, Christkindl came as a substitute.
In North America, by mid 19th century, the mispronunciation of 'Christkindl' led to another name for Santa; 'Kris Kringle'.
Christkindl: 9" (23 cm) - $70
Christkindl:14" (35 cm) - $175 (by order only)
This old gentleman, who was a 19th. century German equivalent of Santa claus, traveled on foot throughout Protestant areas
of Germany on Christmas Eve. For naughty boys and girls, he left switches. Gifts were left for the good children. In some areas he was accompanied
by Christkindl who assisted him with a list of the good boys & girls.
He was banned in favour of Knecht Ruprecht, (a character of pagan roots), by the Nazis in their campaign to abolish all things Christian during the Second World War.
Weihnachtsmann (Christmas Man): 16" (40.5 cm) - $225
Weihnachtsmann (Christmas Man): 28" (71 cm) - $425 (by order only)