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KNECHT RUPRECHT

28 December 2005

Christmas has come and gone again, and we've all indulged ourselves in wallowing meals and cheerfully decorated trees. And of course lauded that hopeless fraud, Santa Claus. I've dug up some more information on him, previously thinking it was purely a rip-off of the Dutch Sinterklaas (or [i]St. Nicholas[/i]), but it appears its origin actually lies in Germany.

Sinterklaas is a feast held on the fifth of December and very similar to what Santa does. Sinterklaas arrives in the land (in the Netherlands by boat) with an army of helpers called Black Pete ('Zwarte Piet') and they give presents to children, there are songs, festivities, etc. Now what I discovered was that in Germany there's something very similar, except that some of the helpers are called Knecht Ruprecht (Knecht translates as Servant) and that they sometimes look extremely similar to Santa Claus. If that isn't enough proof that he's a rip-off I don't know what is. After all, America was 'founded' by European conquerors and therefore many tradition were taken over from the old world as well.

Why do I bother, you might ask? Well, it's not even out of spite or anything. I do think Santa is a sickeningly sweet man with a meh beard and not very much character (whereas Sinterklaas is a far more interesting person: sometimes benevolent, sometimes threatening, he can be an old, fragile man but also dominating; not to mention the mischievous and sometimes demon-like Black Petes surrounding him!), but I guess the whole thing is OK. Bu the thing is, it's just too much of a sport to point out that he's a fraud. Oh yeah, and it's painful to see the streets aligned with the most horrible inflatable -or worse, mechanically dancing and singing!- Santa's constantly torturing by-passers with their ugly presence.

That aside, the one thing I love most about Christmas is the sheer illumination of our living room. The Christmas tree as a source of light; it's just fantastic. I love light. Makes me feel at home.

Roderick.