After we noticed his silhouette from afar, we have been already terrified! As a toddler, I keep in mind the go to of the sinister Père Fouettard. Thankfully for good kids, Saint Nicholas was by no means far-off. Père Fouettard is a legendary character in Christmas folklore in France and different French-speaking areas. He’s typically portrayed because the companion or evil counterpart of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of youngsters. Whereas Saint Nicholas rewards well-behaved kids by bringing them presents, Père Fouettard punishes disobedient or naughty kids. Right here’s a take a look at the bogeyman of our childhood nightmares…
Who’s Père Fouettard?
- Saint Nicholas rewards kids who’ve been good in the course of the previous yr.
- Père Fouettard punishes naughty kids.
It’s so simple as that—the presence of excellent and evil performing in the identical place.
Thoughts you, Father Christmas is the one one with out an evil companion. Santa Claus was stripped of this sinister function in the USA within the nineteenth century. It will have been counterproductive for advertising and marketing causes.
Visits from Père Fouettard in Lorraine
Père Fouettard seems within the cities and villages of Lorraine alongside Saint-Nicolas on 6 December. That is the time of the holy man’s tour. He distributes sweets and items to well-behaved kids.
His entrance into colleges and houses has terrified generations of little Lorraine kids. Think about the scene: Père Fouettard’s job was to manage blows of the martinet (or whip) to disobedient or lazy kids. Probably the most recalcitrant and those that didn’t wish to recite their prayers even risked being carried away by the fearsome bearded man in his huge sack or hood.
The terrifying determine is liable for intimidating the youngsters by threatening them with punishment in the event that they don’t behave correctly.
Marie-Christine remembers Père Fouettard’s go to to Nancy within the Nineteen Sixties:
“He was holding a whip, which we have been instructed he used on naughty kids. To my nice reduction, I personally by no means noticed Père Fouettard try this. However I can inform you that we behaved like altar boys in his presence! We tried to not pay an excessive amount of consideration to his jeers. We needed to include our concern! Fortunately for us, Saint Nicolas was there“.
In some areas, he might be ‘beneficiant’. He would give naughty kids coal, onions, peppers, beetroot, the whole lot that kids hate. If he’d needed to punish me, he’d have given me salsify, chicory and Brussels sprouts!
A lover of noise
Removed from being discreet, this terrifying character loves noise! So his entrance on stage in the course of the St Nicholas procession doesn’t go unnoticed: the sound of chains, whips cracking, bells ringing, boots or hooves scraping the bottom… the boldest spectators generally dare to lift their voices to boo him as he passes.
The place does he come from?
Two legends declare to clarify the origin of Père Fouettard in Lorraine.
- The three little gleaners. These are the three little kids who misplaced within the forest, discovered hospitality in the home of a depraved butcher. As soon as asleep, the butcher lower them into little cubes and put them within the salt cellar. Years later, Saint Nicolas visited the butcher and made him confess to this despicable act. Since then, the butcher has been obliged to help St. Nicholas on his rounds and has grow to be the bogeyman we all know.
- The effigy of Charles V in Metz. Town of Lorraine lays declare to the start of the bogeyman by means of a historic reality relationship again to 1552. In that yr, Charles V himself laid siege to Metz. To mock the emperor, the tanners’ guild got here up with the thought of making a grotesque effigy of the emperor with a whip. When Metz was liberated the next yr, the model was introduced out once more to mark the feast of St Nicholas. The individuals of Metz readily adopted this ridiculous “buttock tanner” who accompanied the holy man.
At the moment, the unhappy character hardly frightens kids, who’re much more impressed of their nightmares by watching tv or the newest Disney film! Though…
What does Père Fouettard appear like?
Père Fouettard is mostly described as a darkish and sinister man wearing rags and carrying a whip or rod.
In Lorraine custom, Père Fouettard has a number of traits. To say the least, he’s a unclean, repulsive and associable character:
- He’s wearing an outsized black coat and wears clogs or huge black boots that make a variety of noise when he walks.
- His black-garbed face stands out beneath a protracted gray beard, shaggy hair and a hood.
- He holds a weapon that threatens kids in his hand: a whip, branches or hammer; it’s your alternative!
The place are you able to meet the bogeyman?
You’re most definitely (or unfortunate, relying!) to fulfill him in Lorraine. In case you’re within the presence of Saint-Nicolas, then the unhappy sire will probably be within the neighborhood. Be careful!
The origins of the character of Père Fouettard are complicated and embody components from completely different traditions and legends. He’s generally thought-about to be a French adaptation of the character of the Krampus, a demonic creature present in Christmas traditions in Central Europe, notably Germany and Austria. Père Fouettard embodies the darker aspect of the Christmas season, reminding kids of the significance of being good and obedient if they’re to earn presents from Saint Nicholas.
The bogeyman-like villain goes by completely different names in several elements of Germanic Europe. And his attributes could differ barely:
- Père Fouettard in Lorraine
- Hans Trapp in Alsace
- Rubelz or Rupp Knecht in German-speaking Lorraine
- Père La Pouque in Normandy
- Zwarte Piet within the Netherlands
- Knecht Ruprecht in Germany
- Pelznickel within the German Center Rhine between Bingen and Bonn
- Krampus in Bavaria and Austria, wanting like a “half-goat, half-devil”.
Uncover Alsace’s Père Fouettard: the terrifying HANS TRAPP!
5 issues you need to find out about Père Fouettard
As we’ve seen, the origin and historical past of Père Fouettard are wealthy in varied influences and legends. To sum up, listed below are 5 necessary issues to know in regards to the historical past and evolution of the Kids’s Terror:
1. Hyperlink with Saint Nicholas
Père Fouettard is historically related to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of youngsters, well-known in France and different elements of Europe. In Saint Nicholas tales, Père Fouettard is commonly portrayed because the saint’s darkish companion, accompanying him on his visits to kids. Saint Nicholas rewards well-behaved kids with items, whereas Père Fouettard is liable for punishing disobedient kids.
2. Hyperlink with Krampus
One in every of Santa’s possible influences is the Krampus, a demonic creature present in Central European Christmas traditions, notably in Germany and Austria. Krampus is normally depicted as a horned demon with claws, pitchforks and chains, and he punishes naughty or disobedient kids at Christmas. The bogeyman shares some similarities with the Krampus, notably in his function as a punisher.
3. Evolution of the character
Over the centuries, Père Fouettard has advanced and various in his portrayal. In some areas, he’s described as a person wearing rags, carrying a whip or rod, whereas in others, he could have a extra sinister look with a masks or horns. His major perform, nonetheless, stays the identical: to frighten kids into behaving accurately.
The bogeyman represents the darkish aspect of Christmas. He reminds kids that the festive season can also be a time to mirror on their behaviour all year long. He encourages kids to be affordable and respectful by threatening punishment or charcoal.
5. Up to date diversifications
At the moment, the picture of the bogeyman can differ from one area to a different and from one household to a different. Some painting him as much less horrifying, even comical, whereas others preserve the custom of presenting him as a sinister determine. Some kids are nonetheless warned that the bogeyman may punish them in the event that they misbehave.
Briefly, the bogeyman is a fancy character whose origins are linked to numerous traditions and legends, with roots in European Christmas tradition. He embodies the disciplinary aspect of the festive season, reminding kids of the significance of being good and respectful to earn Christmas rewards.
Have you ever met the Père Fouettard? In that case, tell us within the feedback beneath!
Featured picture: © M. Laurent – CRT Lorraine
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