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No 702 Steinbach Nutcracker Santa Claus

Santa Claus 

It was usually around the time of St. Martin’s Day, when we would pay the tree money and determine, with the help of the local forester exactly which part of the forest we would be allowed to cut down our little Christmas trees each year. 

This was of course the Christmas season. it was also the time when many a Knecht Ruprecht in the village went from house to house. Knecht Ruprecht is the quintessentially German forerunner or precursor of Santa Claus and dates back already to pre-Christian times. He in time took on the attributes of several different Christmas 4igures” and is now a kind of combination Father Christmas, Santa Claus and quasi- alter-ego to St. Nicholas. He is often portrayed with a sack of sweets and goodies to reward the good children, but also with a switch to punish the naughty children. For us children the coming of Knecht Ruprecht was terribly impressive. Most of the time he carried a sack full of apples, nuts and sweet candies. But every now and again he would make use of his switch and mete out a good whipping to illbehaved boys. Those were the days when we still had order and discipline in our German lands! 

Christmas Eve was of course on the 24th of December. Presents were distributed early in the morning on Christmas Day (Dec. 25th). Before that all the people would have already attended the popular Midnight Mass. At midnight the people in our region came with their miners’ lamps and lanterns. According to old miners’ tradition, a lighted flame was brought up on this night from the depths of the earth to daylight. The trumpets sounded and all the people solemnly raised their voices in truly awe-inspiring song to celebrate the Birth of the Christ-Child with the traditional German Christmas Carol: Alle Jahre wieder. ..

 

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