Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Naughty or Nice ?

December 6th was the feast day of St. Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Myra in Turkey during the 4th Century. He was known for his kindness and many legends are told of him.
He is said to have saved three girls from prostitution and provided them with dowries, then rescued three men from the gallows after being wrongly accused, he is also said to have saved three sailors from drowning.
But he is most popular for his are his gentle love of children.

 In the European folklore of Holland, Belgium and Germany, he is associated with giving rewards on his feast day, to those children who have been good throughout the year.
On the eve of the 6th, children leave their shoes on the doorstep, to be filled with presents.
And in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Italy, it is believed that St. Nicholas is accompanied by a mythical creature known as Krampus a demon like figure. Krampus is a warning to naughty children, whom he punishes for their bad ways.

The word Krampus originates from the old German word for claw - Krampen. In the Alpine regions, traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus on the evening of 5 December, and roam the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells. Images of Krampus usually show him with a basket on his back used to carry away bad children and dump them into the pits of Hell.

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