Belsnickel is a prominent figure which cannot be missed out while listing the various characters associated with Christmas. Read more for this German Christmas character.
Belsnickel, the fur-clad gift-bringing figure associated with Christmas, is known by several other names like Kriskinkle, Beltznickle and even as Xmas Woman in some cases. Though this German-origin figure, mostly regarded as male, has a spooky appearance with a long tongue and infuriating features, Belsnickel is said to be Saint Nicholas's companion and does no harm to good people. Children are scared of this mysterious character because he is believed to thump naughty children for their wicked behavior. During his customary visits, he carries a sack full of goodies and scatters them on the floor. The delighted children pick up their treats while the naughty ones receive thrashing. He makes an appearance on 6th of December before children who eagerly wait for their judgment and promise to improve the coming year. This legendary figure accompanies Santa Claus in some areas of Europe as well as the small Dutch communities of Pennsylvania. His arrival is not always looked forward to with joy rather, children fear him most as he appears as a warning for the naughty kids. Scroll further to read more about him!
Belsnickel - Legends & Myths
- Belschnickel, Belznickle, Belznickel, Pelznikel, Pelznickel or Belsnickel is a man who is covered with fur throughout his body and has a short stature. He is a gigantic mountain-man like figure. Though he is related to the other companions of Saint Nicholas in the Palatinate (north western Germany), he is not believed to accompany them, rather makes his visits alone. There are supposed to be two versions of Belsnickle, the rural and the urban ones. He was considered to be the Pennsylvania-Dutch version of Santa Claus.
- Though Santa is loved by children, Belsnickel is a character which evokes fear in them. However, parents take advantage of his appearance and threaten their children to behave well.
- Despite the negative representation, he is regarded as a gift-giving figure in some areas. For instance, on the feast day of Saint Nicholas, Dec 6th, the well behaved children receive candies from Belsnickel, whereas the naughty kids receive coal and warnings.
- During the 19th century, in certain parts of the United States, 'Pelznickel' traditions were carried out by the immigrants in most of the parts extending up to the US state of Indiana. Today, this tradition is limited to Pennsylvania region only.
- Towards the south shore of Nova Scotia, there exists a Christmas tradition known as Belsnickling for which people make visits from house to house, dressed in multiple layers of clothes. Scarves are tied around their faces to hide their identity. They are given food and drinks until the family members recognize them and then they move to the next house.
Considered to be a legendary figure, Belsnickel accompanies Santa in certain parts of Europe and in some small Dutch communities of Pennsylvania as well.