The Dark Side of Christmas - Santa's Companions

The Dark Side of Christmas - Santa's Companions

After I did the Hub on The Krampus, I started researching more into Santa's companions.
While none of the others have the physical impact of the big demon with horns, some are equally if not more disturbing.
Is it really a good idea for your kids to go to bed at night on Christmas Eve and not have visions of Sugar Plums, but visions of Santa and his homicidal maniac sidekick dancing in their heads?

Belsnickel
Belsnickel

Belsnickel

While he may not be as physically intimidating as The Krampus, Belsnickel shares a few of the same characteristics.
One, he is covered in fur (usually depicted as a fur coat now days) and sometimes he has a mask with a long tongue (similar to the pictures of Krampus).
Compared to Krampus though, Belsnickel is a fairly nice guy.
He delivers socks or shoes full of candy to good little boys and girls on December 6th, the feast day of St. Nicholas.
But if the children were not good they got coal or switches.
I cant find any indication where Belsnickel actually beat or abducted children (expect one) so that puts him ahead of Krampus.
Although most of the time the character was a neighbor that wore the fur coat get up, and would rattle switches across the windows before bursting in the door.
I could see how that might freak little kids out.
But Belsnickel was a fair home invader.
In some traditions, if he judged the children to be bad, they were allowed to recite poetry or sing a song to change his opinion of them.
And in others, he did indeed stuff the bad children in a bag and haul them off.
After A Visit from St. Nicholas (or Twas the Night Before Christmas) by Clement Clarke Moore came out, Santa's "Judge, Jury and Executioner" kinda faded away.

Zwarte Piet (Black Peter)
Zwarte Piet (Black Peter)

Zwarte Piet (Black Peter)

Zwarte Piet aka Black Pete is thought to have originated in the "devil accompanying Santa" legends, but changed to a demon enslaved by Santa and then a companion accompanying Santa that looked like a Moor.
Zwarte Piet seems to have been modified to help the "Good Cop/Bad Cop" idea, taking all the dirty work off Santa.
At first Zwarte Piet was considered to be fairly dim, but in time, he grew to be a respected companion of Santa.
As opposed to Krampus, Piet was more mischievous than horrifying, although in some traditions, he did stuff bad children in his bag and take them to Spain as punishment.
"Spain as punishment"?
Well Saint Nicholas was supposed to have come from Spain, so maybe he was running some kinda toy making sweatshop there, with labor provided by abducted children.
I like the elves at the North Pole theory better.

Zwarte Piet has run into racial stereotype problems in recent years.
Despite the fact that most people polled do not see Piet as a racist character, some figures run up to 90%, they have begun making alterations to Zwarte Piet's clothing and makeup (blue as opposed to black, see below) or totally phasing him out.

You know, the more I look at him, the more I think he actually looks like...Nightcrawler, especially with the new blue skin.
You gotta admit, that teleporting thing would come in handy on Christmas Eve.
(Okay, one of you great artists out there do a pic of Nightcrawler as Zwarte Piet and Wolverine as Santa Claws..hehehehe)

Zwarte Piet or Nightcrawler...you decide
Zwarte Piet or Nightcrawler...you decide
Le Pere Fouettard - The Whipfather
Le Pere Fouettard - The Whipfather

Le Père Fouettard

Wow.
If you thought Krampus was bad, check this guy out.
Père Fouettard, also known as the whipfather exists all over Europe, but mainly in the Eastern regions of France.
Krampus may look more terrible, but this guy puts him to shame.
One legend says that he killed three children, cut them up and put them in a stewpot!
St. Nicholas happened upon the scene and resurrected the children.
Then Père Fouettard repented and became Santa's companion.
Santa, the reindeer and Charles Manson?
Another legend says that this beloved character was a tanner that was bound in chains, and carried a whip to punish bad children.
Unsettlingly enough, Le Père Fouettard did actually make it to the US in the 1930s, his name changed to the more "kid friendly" Father Flog.
This version was accompanied by Mother Flog, and they doled out punishment to children like cutting out their tongues for lying.
I'm seeing that Santa's companions (except for Belsnickel) seemed to have a pretty much "zero tolerance" policy,
By the way, it's rumored that the picture on the cover of Led Zeppelin IV is Le Père Fouettard.

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The Dark Side of Christmas Comments 9 comments

grillrepair profile image

grillrepair 6 years ago from florida

are you making this up?


sabrebIade profile image

sabrebIade 6 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

LOL...not at all!


jenblacksheep profile image

jenblacksheep 6 years ago from England

I've never heard of any of these companions, so I learnt something new from this hub! Very interesting! Your asides made me laugh :D

I guess if ur gna believe in Santa then you should believe in his companion too!


Mazy-Mouse 6 years ago

''BAH....HUMBUG..!!!!!


NateSean profile image

NateSean 6 years ago from Salem, MA

I like the photos and the new information.

Incidentally, December 6th, AKA Saint Nicholas Day is also my birthday. Hehe, man I was born on an interesting day.


TheMMAZone profile image

TheMMAZone 6 years ago from Kansas

Wow this has to be one of the most interesting hubs I have ever read! Wow first the Krampus then this.. very interesting hubs and it's not even Christmas!


Hellbound Alleee 6 years ago

It's been awhile since you've posted this, but I have some more interesting information.

Try to look up Stallo. It's because of this huge demon of the Saami people of Lapland that it seems that The Wildman (which is the basis of all of the legends of the Yeti or Bigfoot) is the basis for St. Nick's companions. If you're willing to think about it, many of these creatures came BEFORE Saint Nicholas, and have an amazing family tree which includes many gods of the north who fly through the sky with the help of horses, reindeers and goats (Cracker and Gnasher). With the aid of the most Christmassy of mushrooms, the "fly agaric," the type you will see in many germanic christmas ornaments, the northern peoples and shaman used to feel like they were flying. In fact, the reindeer still eat these mushrooms in the arctic north.

But look up Stallo, the Lapland Wildman who will bash in children's skulls and drink from their necks as soon as he delivers gifts through the chimneys of their yerts.


jrlomy2k 6 years ago

Thank you for posting this!

For generations, our family has grown up with Black Peter, mean Santa Claus and a mean reindeer named Kuza (I think that's how it was spelled, not sure as we never got the official spelling). My grandparents told stories of when they were young this trio would visit the houses in the neighborhoods, warning/threatening children to behave otherwise their Christmas presents would be taken. Only, from what I recall, they said they were much more vicious than those of when I was young.

The visitors came on the evening of January 6th--Epiphany; the last of the 12 days of Christmas. Our mean "Santa" played the accordian/concertina--we are of Polish/Slovenian descent. It was always set up that we would visit relatives or plan things at home where it was certain these three would visit. The ominous sounds of that accordian was enough for all of us kids to scream, cry and hide from them--they didn't even have to come through the front door. (Of course they did, anyway). Our "Kuza", pounded fiercely, shaking the floor and our cores. Our parents of course ratted our hiding spots out. And it was no less painful had it been God Himself on our Judgement Day.

Of course, these people we learned as we got older were either relatives, or neighbors in on the ritual. Some of the few main people who wore the costumes have passed away, (including my own mother, since she was the only one who knew how to play the accordian), and Kuza, Black Peter and the Mean Santa haven't been around for years--at least in body. Their legacy STILL lives on in my family. My nephews have never been graced by their presence, but goodness knows they know who "Kuza" is. :D

I have searched and searched for quite some time over the internet to see if I can find any historical information regarding "Kuza", but have come up empty handed. A few years ago, I saw a TV news clip speaking of "kuza" and how it was a tradition in another culture, but I'll be darned if I can't find it. I have tried many spellings, countries, and even thought that it translated to "goat" rather than reindeer.

If anyone has information, you can email me to my ID at yahoo. Thanks!


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 4 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

Fascinating companions Santa keeps. You can tell a lot about a man by the people who follow him around! I especially liked your commentary. Very funny. Have a great holiday season, and watch out for the Christas downers. I never knew there were so many. I guess now I have a better threat than Santa not putting my kids on the nice list. They could go into the stew pot1

Namaste

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