The Companions of St. Nicholas

December 3, 2010

Ryan O’Connor

The tradition of Saint Nicholas Day, every December 6th, is a festival for children in many countries in Europe. Traditions surrounding St. Nicholas Day involve legends of the saint, particularly his reputation as a gift bringer. St. Nicholas is said to go house to house on the night before St, Nicholas Day, giving gifts to the good children. In many regional traditions St. Nicholas is accompanied by a servant. St. Nicholas’s servant would accompany St. Nicholas as he went house to house, threatening to beat, kidnap or otherwise terrorize those children that had misbehaved in the previous year. This talk will explore these figures, including Krampus, a horned, fur-clad, demonic figure, Zwarte Piet, St. Nicholas’s Moorish servant, and many more.