December 25, 2010

The Twelve Posts of Santa, Part XI: The Underbelly of Christmas

In this post we've decided to explore the less joyful side of Christmas. We conducted searches for three characters -- Zwarte Piet, Le Père Fouettard and Krampus -- that have a habit of dishing out punishments to bad children over the holiday season.
Which of these three characters would you least like to have over for tea? Well it turns out that while both Zwarte Piet and Père Fouettard have a penchant for dishing out floggings to children (and for some reason abducting them to Spain in the case of Zwarte Piet), it is the not-too-photogenic Krampus that draws the line at scaring children with bells. It also is rumoured that Austrian fascists weren't too keen on the guy. In the spirit of the my enemy's enemy proverb, we decided to see how Krampus performed in online visibility compared to his child beating colleagues.
It turns out, not too badly. As would be expected, Zwarte Piet is most visible in the Netherlands and Père Fouettard is most visible in France. Belgium is evenly split between the two, so poorly-behaved, Flemish-speaking Belgian children can expect their whippings from Zwarte Piet and French speakers can expect beatings from Père Fouettard. Zwarte Piet also seems to make brief appearances in Berlin, Venice and London, but it is Krampus who really has the most geographic mobility, with sightings all over Europe.

We're not sure what they moral of this tale is, but if you see an ugly, horned monster-like creature speaking Austrian German wandering about your neighbourhood, try not to panic.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.