Knecht Ruprecht
(Servant Rupert):
17th Century   Germany

This intimidating character, who first appeared in a German play in 1668, was one of the secular 'Dark Helpers' of Christkindl after the Protestant Reformation. Since the image of the angelic Christkindl did not frighten children into good behaviour, a menacing character carrying switches, such as Knecht Ruprecht, was just what was needed. He questioned the parents on their childrens' behaviour, leaving goodies for the deserving ones and a switch for use on naughty ones. His very appearance frightened the young children.

He is sometimes identified with other 'Dark Helpers' such as Pelznickel, (Nicholas in Furs) or Ru Klaas, (Rough Nicholas). Some tales have him carrying a sack of coal for the hearth fires or to leave for bad children.

The Nazi campaign to be rid of a Christian Christmas during the Second World War, favoured Knecht Ruprecht over Santa Claus (der Weihnachtsmann), identifying him with the Nordic pagan god 'Wotan'

16" (40.5 cm) - $225
28" (71 cm) - $425 (by order only)
Knecht Ruprecht in dark clothing and furs