German lore gives St Nicholas a companion in the form of Knecht Rupert. His function is to punish bad children. He initially seems to have been there as a bogeyman. It has been suggested that Knecht Ruprecht has his origin in the Wildman of European folklore and cryptozoological interest. Mythologists have argued that the figure of Woden/Wotan/Odin lies behind him. Jacob Grimm thought he was in origin a homesprite, one who looked after a family in their home. However, the first direct information we have about him is his appearance in a German play of 1668.
Ruprecht dresses in black or brown and has a face blackened with soot. Sometimes he wears goatskin. In Catholic areas, he may carry a Rosary. He may sometimes be portrayed as limping. The term knecht means a farm laborer and another argument is that he is simply meant to represent a member of the laboring class.
Ruprecht really attained fame in a poem called Knecht Ruprecht
(1862) by Theodor Storm. These days, instead of meting out punishment, he instead gives apples, nuts and gingerbread to children. He is sometimes shown riding a white horse. He may have attendants of the elf and fairy kind.
Wednesday, 23 December 2015
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