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This photo was taken in the Netherlands. The guy on the right is Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, also known to us as Santa Claus. But you might be a bit more confused by the guy on the left. The Dutch know him as Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete. According to wikipedia:
Quote: Zwarte Piet is often portrayed as a mischievous but rarely a mean-spirited character. Parents used to tell their children that if they have been good, Zwarte Piet will bring them gifts and sweets, but if they have been bad, Piet will scoop them up, stuff them in his huge dufflebag and spirit them away to Spain as punishment. Though this is increasingly uncommon nowadays, he can still carry some type of whip or scourge (called a "roe"), especially a birch, which could be used for birching or in modern words, to chastise children who have been too naughty to deserve presents.
Question: How long do you suppose someone could last in New York City dressed as Zwarte Piet?
Now, on to another beloved Christmas character: Krampus
Ain't he adorable? Celebrated in the Austrian tradition, Krampus is a demon who appears in the weeks before Christmas. Just as Santa is said to reward the good children, Krampus is there to punish the bad ones by whipping them with rusty chains. In the weeks before Christmas, men will often stand on street corners dressed as Krampus, trying to scare women and children. In some rural areas, they'll even try to whip little girls with a birch rod.
So this holiday season, let's appreciate the holiday traditions of our brethren across the Atlantic. And God help us, everyone.
My German teacher in high school once told me there was a christmas tradition similar to this but the men of the village would all dress u in strange outfits with straw all over them and would rape the teenage girls of the village if they were bad but that if they were good that saint nick would bring gifts. Boys were just whipped or something.
Do not take this for gospel because I am not so sure that she wasn't making it up, sounds too bizarre.
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