Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

This area has been established to allow you, our visitors and contributors, to get to know one another a bit better, or to discuss subjects of general interest, without feeling obliged to restrict your postings to language-related topics. But we draw the line at floccinaucinihilivilification.
Post Reply

Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

Post by Dunkeld » Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:05 pm

As it is the day of the Nikolaus today, I am asking this question.
Ist Saint Nicholas also known in English-speaking countries?

Here in the South of Germany it is usually like this:

Saint Nicholas is the traditional bringer of gifts on December 6th.
The Christ Child (Christkindl) is the bringer of gifts on December 24.

Father Christmas or Santa Claus may rule in all the films and on TV and in adverts etc etc worldwide.
But he is not welcome in our house. :)
Only Saint Nicholas or the Christkindl may enter. :)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

Post by trolley » Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:34 pm

Are you ok with Knecht Ruprecht tagging along?
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

Post by Dunkeld » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:45 pm

Knecht Ruprecht is quite an interesting person. :)
Some say he is one of the old Norse or Germanic gods in disguise.
In our region he was called "Pelznickel" - and his job was to make children panic with fear.
Nikolaus was a friendly bringer of gifts - not so Knecht Ruprecht!
Last edited by Dunkeld on Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

Post by Phil White » Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:08 pm

Where I lived, in the deepest, darkest regions of Bavaria, on the Austrian border, it was the Krampus who came on the 5th of December to scare the crap out of kids. An altogether more alarming figure than even Knecht Ruprecht, the Krampus always disturbed me. I do wonder about the psychological damage to kids who grew up with that Alpine tradition.

To address the original question, no, St. Nicholas is largely unknown in the UK, although most will be aware of the link to Santa Claus. The Eve of St. Nicholas is not celebrated, which is undoubtedly partly to do with the Protestant/Puritan tradition of the UK.

More generally, Christmas is far less of a religious festival in the UK than in Germany. Despite the carols and the nativity plays and the fact that midnight mass is the one time of the year that many go to church at all, the actual Christmas celebration is largely a secular, hedonistic celebration of consumerism (always celebrated on the 25th, rather than on the evening of the 24th).

It is one of the curses of being a translator that I often have to translate Christmas greetings. They simply do not translate from one culture to another. It is impossible to translate the word "besinnlich". We simply do not wish people a "contemplative Christmas". Christmas is a boisterous and often testing time in the UK, not an opportunity to reflect on the past year in the bosom of one's family.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

Post by Dunkeld » Sat Dec 07, 2019 5:56 pm

Yesterday I have been to the Christmas Market at Baden-Baden.
And there I saw a real Nicholas - as a Greek bishop.
A rare sight!
Usually only sees Father Christmas.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

Post by trolley » Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:11 pm

Those kids sure have it tough over there. The worst thing a North American child has to worry about is getting a lump of coal or a rotten poatato in their stocking. Icelandic kids are in danger of being eaten by Gryla, German kids may be stuffed in a sack and carted off to hell, and Portuguese children might have their toes eaten. Merry Christmas, children. Sleep well.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

Post by Dunkeld » Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:39 pm

Now I have read about Gryla:
Icelandic Christmas folklore depicts mountain-dwelling characters and monsters who come to town during Christmas. The stories are directed at children and are used to scare them into good behaviour. The folklore includes both mischievous pranksters who leave gifts during the night and monsters who eat disobedient children.

The figures are depicted as living together as a family in a cave and include:

Gryla and Leppaludi – Gryla is a giantess with an appetite for the flesh of mischievous children, who she cooks in a large pot. Her husband, Leppaludi, is lazy and mostly stays at home in their cave.
The Yule Cat is a huge and vicious cat who lurks about the snowy countryside during Christmas time (Yule) and eats people who have not received any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve.
The Yule Lads are the sons of Gryla and Leppaludi. They are a group of 13 mischievous pranksters who steal from or harass the population and all have descriptive names that convey their favorite way of harassing.[1] They come to town one by one during the last 13 nights before Christmas (Yule). They leave small gifts in shoes that children have placed on window sills, but if the child has been disobedient they instead leave a potato in the shoe.[2]

These Christmas-related folk tales first appear around the 17th century and display some variation based on region and age. In modern times these characters have taken on a slightly more benevolent role.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic ... s_folklore

Terrible! :shock: :shock: :shock:
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

Post by Bobinwales » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:16 pm

In Wales we have Siôn Corn, although in truth he has been largely forgotten because of Anglicisation. A 'corn' is a chimney pot and 'Siôn' is a Welsh version of John... so Siôn Corn literally translates as John Chimney Pot. As far as I can tell he serves the functions as Father Christmas.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas

Post by Dunkeld » Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:56 pm

Bobinwales wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:16 pm
In Wales we have Siôn Corn
Good to know! I 'll add him to my list! :)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

ACCESS_END_OF_TOPIC
Post Reply