Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Der Belsnickel

We welcomed Timothy Essig to the tea room recently.  A Landis Valley Museum educator, he presented a first person interpretation of the rascally Pennsylvania Dutch holiday character, Der Belsnickel, or loosely translated, Nicholas in Furs. The tradition of Der Belsnickel was brought to America by German immigrants and is very regional to Pennsylvania and Maryland, perhaps into New York.  Dressed in furs and bells, often wearing a mask, he carried a bag of goodies in one hand for the good kids and a switch in the other for the naughty children.

All Belsnickels dress slightly differently, but furs and bells were common.  They were scary with unruly hair and raggedy pants.  Typically, the Belsnickels were neighbors or relatives, and visited on Christmas Eve.  The tradition of Der Belsnickel eventually fell out of favor as the kinder gentler Santa evolved.  It was fun to welcome this rascally fellow to the tea room as he announced that there was no such thing as a good kid.  He proceeded to tell stories about the naughty activities of the guests in attendance, all in good fun, of course.

4 comments:

Time Traveling in Costume said...

Oh, how fun, and how scarey!
Val

Marilyn said...

I can just imagine everyone really enjoyed this event. How fun he looks and oh stories of rascally kids would certainly bring laughter to anyone.

Karen's Place said...

So interesting. Learn something new everyday...even without google lol. I wish your tearoom was closer. Merry Christmas.

Angela McRae said...

How fun! I absolutely love reading about the regional people/places/things on your blog!