This weekend Santa will be getting ready to make his annual overnight ride to deliver toys to all of those who have been good all year. What may come as bit of a surprise, is that he doesn’t make this ride alone. Santa, or St. Nick, has plenty of help.

Elves make the toys. Reindeer pull the sleigh through the cold winter sky so Santa can deliver toys to the good kids. The bad kids get a visit from one of these yuletide “ride-or-die” buddies of the Jolly Ol’ Elf.  You better be good, for goodness sake!

Krampus

image By Unknown, Public Domain

Becoming increasingly popular due to holiday horror movies and YouTube videos galore is the first of St. Nick’s companions.

Krampus, the goat-demon hybrid, comes to us from traditions in Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia.

While St. Nicholas delivers the gifts to all of us who have behaved all year; Krampus is the one dispensing coal, bundles of birch branches, and punishing the bad kids.

During Krampuslauf, people dress as Krampus and parade through town to the "delight" of on-lookers. Check out the video below.

 

 

Knecht Ruprecht

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Also known as Farmhand Rupert, this companion of St. Nick’s from Germany wearing fur and donning a massive beard carries a long staff, bag of ashes, and has little bells hanging from his clothing.

According to the tradition, Rupert asks kids if they know their prayers. If they do, they get tasty rewards. If they don’t, Rupert beats them with the bag of ashes.

 

 

 

Belsnickel

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You might remember this one from an episode of "The Office." This companion wears fur and sometimes a mask that has a long tongue. He visits kids at Christmas and delivers shoes or socks full of candy if they were good. Bad kids receive coal or switches (sticks) in their “stockings” instead.

There is a tradition in Canada called “Belsnickling” where participants go house to house dressed in several layers concealing their identity. They are given food and drinks (eggnog or rum) until someone guesses their identity and they go on to the next house.

These aren't even all of the "companions" that join Santa as he makes his rounds, but there is one similarity across the board. They all dole out the punishment. Sounds to me like Santa outsources his dirty work.