Interpreter Training, Christmas Folklore and Santa's Evil Friends
Interpreter training during the holidays can be easier to some because there isn't much variance in the core holiday folklore: some overweight guy travels to every child's house in the world, overnight, and breaks into your home through the chimney. But we all habitually let his annual felony offenses slide for this one night just because he leaves presents for well behaved children. By now, we have all heard the song Santa Claus is coming to town, and the not-so-subtle threats that children should behave and be nice, or else Santa will put you on the naughty list. In case you haven't heard "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" 500 times this year, here are some of those lyrics:
"You better watch out. You better not cry.
You better watch out I'm telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town!
He's making a list, checking it twice.
Gonna find out who's naughty or nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town!
He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake.
He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!"
On the surface, the threats seem harmless and even cute, but have you wondered what Santa does with all those naughty children? Is the threat just that Santa won't give a gift to a naughty child, or is it a threat of something more sinister? For the answer, we have to look at Santa's evil brother who actually travels with good ol' saint Nick on December 24.
That's right, Santa has an evil brother...because every inherent good needs an inherent evil to create balance- the yin and the yang so to speak. And depending on where you live, most call his evil brother Krampus (Originating in Germany but popular in other central European countries like Austria, Bavaria & Hungary and even Pensylvania) while others call him Belsnickel (northern Germany) or Le Père Fouettard (France). Whatever you call the evil demon who travels with Saint Nicholas, or even if you have never heard of the demon before- he definitely exists just as much as Santa does and it's time to acknowledge him, or all of them just as much as Good ol' Saint Nick.
The Christmas Krampus
Originating in Germany but spreading to Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Switzerland and Pennsylvania, USA (due to it's high German population) Krampus is a horned, not-quite human demon. Seen carrying birch branches to punish naughty children with, he is often shown with chains and a bucket of some kind on his back; for a convenient and hands-free way to carry the worst of the naughty children back to the land of fire and brimstone for eternal damnation. Krampus is the scariest and most evil of the three. So when Santa Claus is coming to town plays, and you hear "you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I'm telling you why" it's because Krampus is coming with Santa Claus to punish naughty children.
When German settlers landed in Pennsylvania, other colonists weren't celebrating to the
extent they were used to. Setting out to start new traditions, they started by cutting down a fir tree adorned with popcorn, cranberries and ornaments made from colored paper. Before any child could receive a gift, an uncle or grandfather dressed in animal furs would knock on the window with a wooden switch used for beatings. Running scared, the children would scatter which leaves parents to round them up for their judgement. Belsnickel would ask each child if they were naughty that year. If a child told the truth, they would be rewarded- but a lie will result in a thrashing. After judgement of each child was complete, all children will get a small treat from Belsnickel's bag.
Le Père Fouettard (The Whipping Father)
Mostly popular in France, but feared by children throughout Europe- some say Le Père Fouettard is worse than Krampus. Every year, Santa brings this friend on his sleigh ride to punish all the children who have misbehaved. Sparing the gory details, he essentially captured 3 children on their way to boarding school. After robbing and killing them, he chopped them up into a meat pie. Taking out his anger on bad children, he is usually seen with a pointed face and dressed in scraggly robes with a long beard and a whip.
Holiday Interpreter Training
As we can see, there are a lot of similarities between Krampus, Belsnickel and Le Père Fouettard- mostly to scare children into behaving. Unfortunately, the majority of children who grow up in the United States have never heard of Santa's evil friends, and unfortunately have never had the threat of being punished Krampus to influence behavior during Christmas. Their existence may very well have been struck from the Christmas records because parents want their kids to focus on the "joy of Christmas." Different iterations and translations of stories about these ominous companions of Santa have come up over time. With so many rich and diverse holiday traditions and folklore across the world, interpreter training online during the holidays can make Christmas dinner with little ones a little more enjoyable- especially when you can introduce them to something new. With online interpreter training offered in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Haitian Creole or Vietnamese languages you can make holiday dinners a little more interesting this year.
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