Christkind

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Christkind Christkind.jpg
Christkind

The Christkind (pronounced [ˈkʁɪstkɪnt] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); German  for " Christ-child ") is the traditional Christmas gift-bringer in Austria, Switzerland, southern and western Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Belgium, Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary, parts of northeastern France, Upper Silesia in Poland, parts of Hispanic America, in certain areas of southern Brazil, Quebec in Canada, and in the Acadiana region of Louisiana. In some parts of Italy, the analogous figure of the Christkind is known as Gesù Bambino, however Santa Claus is the traditional bearer of Christmas gifts. Christkind is called in Portuguese Menino Jesus ("Jesus Boy"), in Hungarian Jézuska ("Little Jesus"), in Slovak Ježiško ("Little Jesus"), in Czech Ježíšek ("Little Jesus"), in Latin America Niño Dios ("God Child") or Niño Jesús ("Jesus Child") and in Croatian Isusić or Isusek ("Little Jesus").

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages that are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Christ Child Jesus as a child up to the age of 12

The Christ Child, also known as Divine Infant, Baby Jesus, Infant Jesus, Child Jesus, the Holy Child, and Santo Niño, refers to Jesus Christ from his nativity to age 12.

Christmas holiday originating in Christianity, usually celebrated on December 25 (in the Gregorian or Julian calendars)

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.

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Promulgated by Martin Luther at the Protestant Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe, many Protestants adopted this gift bringer, the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve. [1] As such, the "Lutheran Church promoted Christ as the children's gift-giver, hoping to draw attention to the child for whom Christmas was named." [2] The Christkind was adopted in Catholic areas of Germany during the 19th century. [3] To this date, the Christkindl "remains the main gift bringer in many Catholic countries in Latin America." [4]

Martin Luther Saxon priest, monk and theologian, seminal figure in Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther,, was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

Saint Nicholas Day traditional day in Europa

Saint Nicholas Day, or the Feast of Saint Nicholas, observed on December 5/6 in Western Christian countries and December 19 in Eastern Christian countries on the Old Calendar, is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. It is celebrated as a Christian festival with particular regard to his reputation as a bringer of gifts, as well as through the attendance of Mass or other worship services. In Europe, especially in "Germany and Poland, boys would dress as bishops begging alms for the poor." In Ukraine, children wait for St. Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows provided that the children were good during the year. Children who behaved badly may expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows. In the Netherlands, Dutch children put out a clog filled with hay and a carrot for Saint Nicholas' horse. On Saint Nicholas Day, gifts are tagged with personal humorous rhymes written by the sender. In the United States, one custom associated with Saint Nicholas Day is children leaving their shoes in the foyer on Saint Nicholas Eve in hope that Saint Nicholas will place some coins on the soles.

Christmas Eve Evening or entire day before Christmas Day

Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus. Christmas Day is observed around the world, and Christmas Eve is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day. Together, both days are considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom and Western society.

Christkind, Munich, Germany Thronendes Jesuskind BNM.jpg
Christkind, Munich, Germany

The Christkind is a sprite-like child, usually depicted with blond hair and angelic wings. [5] Martin Luther intended it to be a reference to the incarnation of Jesus as an infant (see Christ Child). Sometimes the Christ Child is, instead of the infant Jesus, interpreted as a specific angel bringing the presents, as it appears in some processions together with an image of little Jesus Christ. Later, the Christkind was said to make rounds delivering gifts with St. Nicholas. [6]

Angel Supernatural being in various religions and mythologies

An angel is generally a supernatural being found in various religions and mythologies. Abrahamic religions often depict angels as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between God and humanity. Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out tasks on behalf of God. Abrahamic religions often organize angels into hierarchies, although such rankings may vary between sects in each religion. Such angels may receive specific names or titles. People have also extended the use of the term "angel" to various notions of spirits or figures found in other religious traditions. The theological study of angels is known as "angelology". Angels expelled from Heaven are referred to as fallen angels as distinct from the heavenly host.

Jesus The central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

Children never see the Christkind in person, and parents tell them that Christkind will not come and bring presents if they are curious and try to spot it. The family enters the living room, where the Christmas tree has been put up, for the opening of presents (the Bescherung), when the parents say that they think that the Christkind who has brought the presents has now left again. In some traditions, the departure is announced by the ringing of a small bell, which the parents pretend to have heard or which is secretly done by one of the adults in the family.

Since the 1990s, the Christkind has faced increasing competition from the Weihnachtsmann, caused by the use of the American version of Santa Claus as an advertising figure.[ citation needed ] Many traditionalist Catholics in recent times have advocated for the tradition of the Christkind as a "beautiful means of restoring the true meaning of Christmas". [7]

Santa Claus Folkloric figure, said to deliver gifts to children on Christmas Eve

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved children on the night of Christmas Eve and the early morning hours of Christmas Day. The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas, the British figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas. Some maintain Santa Claus also absorbed elements of the Germanic god Wodan, who was associated with the pagan midwinter event of Yule and led the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky.

The "true meaning of Christmas" is a phrase that began to appear in the mid-19th century when a shift toward a more secular culture resulted in a national backlash. Christians began to see the secularization of the celebration day of the birth of Christ as the shift toward Santa and gift exchanging replaced the celebration of the advent of Christ and giving to the poor and needy without expectation of receiving anything in return. The poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (1822) helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance. Harriet Beecher Stowe criticizes the commercialization in her story "Christmas; or, the Good Fairy". An early expression of this sentiment using the phrase of "the true meaning" is found in The American magazine, vol. 28 (1889):

Christkindl or Christkindel are diminutive versions of Christkind. Christkind and Belsnickel are also found among communities of Volga German descent in Argentina. A well-known figure is the Christkind at the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, which is represented by a young woman chosen every two years for this task.

A diminutive is a word that has been modified to convey a slighter degree of its root meaning, to convey the smallness of the object or quality named, or to convey a sense of intimacy or endearment. A diminutive form is a word-formation device used to express such meanings; in many languages, such forms can be translated as "little" and diminutives can also be formed as multi-word constructions such as "Tiny Tim". Diminutives are often employed as nicknames and pet names, when speaking to small children, and when expressing extreme tenderness and intimacy to an adult. The opposite of the diminutive form is the augmentative. Beyond the diminutive form of a single word, a diminutive can be a multi-word name, such as "Tiny Tim" or "Little Dorrit". In many languages, formation of diminutives by adding suffixes is a productive part of the language. For example, in Spanish gordo can be a nickname for someone who is overweight, and by adding an ito suffix, it becomes gordito which is more affectionate. A double diminutive is a diminutive form with two diminutive suffixes rather than one. While many languages apply a grammatical diminutive to nouns, a few – including Dutch, Latin, Polish, Macedonian, Czech, Russian and Estonian – also use it for adjectives and even other parts of speech. In English the alteration of meaning is often conveyed through clipping, making the words shorter and more colloquial. Diminutives formed by adding affixes in other languages are often longer and not necessarily understood.

Belsnickel German Christmas gift-bringer

Belsnickel is a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities.

Nuremberg city in Bavaria, Germany

Nuremberg is the second-largest city of the German federal state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 511,628 (2016) inhabitants make it the 14th largest city in Germany. On the Pegnitz River and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it lies in the Bavarian administrative region of Middle Franconia, and is the largest city and the unofficial capital of Franconia. Nuremberg forms a continuous conurbation with the neighbouring cities of Fürth, Erlangen and Schwabach with a total population of 787,976 (2016), while the larger Nuremberg Metropolitan Region has approximately 3.5 million inhabitants. The city lies about 170 kilometres (110 mi) north of Munich. It is the largest city in the East Franconian dialect area.

Christkindl is also a part of the city of Steyr in Austria, named after the allegedly miraculous wax statue of Christkind in the town church. [8]

Steyr Place in Upper Austria, Austria

Steyr is a statutory city, located in the Austrian federal state of Upper Austria. It is the administrative capital, though not part of Steyr-Land District. Steyr is Austria's 12th most populated town and the 3rd largest town in Upper Austria.

See also

Related Research Articles

Kris Kringle may refer to:

Sinterklaas Legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas

Sinterklaas or Sint-Nicolaas is a legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children. Other names for the figure include De Sint, De Goede Sint, and De Goedheiligman in Dutch; Saint Nicolas in French; Sinteklaas in West Frisian; Sinterklaos in Limburgs; Saint-Nikloi in West Flemish; and Kleeschen and Zinniklos in Luxembourgish.

Companions of Saint Nicholas

The companions of Saint Nicholas are a group of closely related figures who accompany Saint Nicholas throughout the territories formerly in the Holy Roman Empire or the countries that it influenced culturally. These characters act as a foil to the benevolent Christmas gift-bringer, threatening to thrash or abduct disobedient children. Jacob Grimm associated this character with the pre-Christian house spirit which could be benevolent or malicious, but whose mischievous side was emphasized after Christianization. The association of the Christmas gift-bringer with elves has parallels in English and Scandinavian folklore, and is ultimately and remotely connected to the modern Christmas elf in American folklore.

Advent calendar Special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas

An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Since the date of the First Sunday of Advent varies, falling between November 27 and December 3 inclusive, many Advent calendars, especially those that are reusable, often begin on December 1, although those that are produced for a specific year often include the last few days of November that are part of the liturgical season. The Advent calendar was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Christmas traditions

Christmas traditions vary from country to country. Christmas celebrations for many nations include the installing and lighting of Christmas trees, the hanging of Advent wreaths, Christmas stockings, candy canes, setting out cookies and milk, and the creation of Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas carols may be sung and stories told about such figures as the Baby Jesus, St Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Christkind or Grandfather Frost. The sending and exchange of Christmas card greetings, observance of fasting and special religious observances such as a midnight Mass or Vespers on Christmas Eve, the burning of a Yule log, and the giving and receiving of presents. Along with Easter, Christmas is one of the most important periods on the Christian calendar, and is often closely connected to other holidays at this time of year, such as Advent, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, St Nicholas Day, St. Stephen's Day, New Year's, and the Feast of the Epiphany.

Père Noël Christmas-giftbringer in the French-speaking world

Père Noël, "Father Christmas", sometimes called Papa Noël, is a legendary gift-bringer at Christmas in France and other French-speaking areas, identified with the Father Christmas and/or Santa Claus of English-speaking territories. Though they were traditionally different, all of them are now the same character, with different names, and the shared characteristics of a red outfit, workshop at the North Pole, and team of reindeer.

Christmas market street market associated with the celebration of Christmas

A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, Christkindlimarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany, but are now being held in many other countries. The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe, and in many parts of the former Holy Roman Empire that includes many eastern regions of France.

Knecht Ruprecht companion of Saint Nicholas in the folklore of Germany

Knecht Ruprecht is a companion of Saint Nicholas as described in the folklore of Germany. He first appears in written sources in the 17th century, as a figure in a Nuremberg Christmas procession.

Secret Santa Western Christmas tradition

Secret Santa is a Western Christmas tradition in which members of a group or community are randomly assigned a person to whom they give a gift. The identity of the gift giver is to remain a secret and should not be revealed.

Ježíšek is a cultural Christmas figure popular in the Czech Republic. It is also known as Ježiško in Slovakia, Jezušček in Slovenia and as Jézuska in Hungary.

Weihnachten Christmas celebrations and traditions in Germany

Weihnachten is the observance of what is commonly known in English as Christmas Eve in the German-speaking countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It is also widespread in countries with a German-speaking minority, such as Transylvania in Romania, South Tyrol in Italy, Eupen in Belgium, and various diasporas such as the German Brazilian and German American communities. Traditions of Weihnachten influenced Christmas and Advent culture throughout the world.

Mikulás

Mikulás is the Hungarian version of Saint Nicholas, and a similar figure to Santa Claus. In many cities, Mikulás is getting more conflated with Santa Claus. Still, it is believed that Mikulás arrives to celebrate his day, December 6, and leaves before Christmas. This tradition is also well known in Romania, Slovenia (Miklavž), the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Poland (Mikołaj).

Christmas in Hungary Christmas celebrations and traditions in Hungary

Christmas in Hungary is celebrated with traditions similar to those found in other Central European countries as well as customs unique to the region.

Christmas gift-bringer Type of folkloric Christmas figures

A number of Midwinter or Christmas traditions in European folklore involve gift-bringers. Mostly involving the figure of a bearded old man, the traditions have mutually influenced one another, and have adopted aspects from Christian hagiography, even before the modern period. In Slavic countries, the figure is mostly Father Frost. In Scandinavia, it is an elf-like figure or tomten who comes at Yule . In Western Europe, the figure was also similar to an elf, developing into Father Christmas in the modern period in Great Britain. In German-speaking Europe and Latin Europe, it became associated with the Christian Saint Nicholas.

Krampus A horned, anthropomorphic folklore figure associated with Christmas

In Central European folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as "half-goat, half-demon", who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Krampus is one of the companions of Saint Nicholas in several regions including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Northern Italy including South Tyrol and the Province of Trento, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated it as having pre-Christian origins.

References

  1. Forbes, Bruce David, Christmas: a candid history, University of California Press, 2007, ISBN   0-520-25104-0, pp. 68-79.
  2. Siefker, Phyllis (1 January 1997). Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas, Spanning 50,000 Years. McFarland. p. 158. ISBN   9780786402465. Beginning in the sixteenth century, the Lutheran Church promoted Christ as the children's gift-giver, hoping to draw attention to the child for whom Christmas was named.
  3. Perry, Joe (27 September 2010). Christmas in Germany: A Cultural History. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 36. ISBN   9780807899410. The Christkind, despite his Lutheran roots, was especially popular in Catholic households because of his lingering associations with Jesus.
  4. McCullough, Joseph (20 September 2014). The Story of Santa Claus. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 43. ISBN   9781472803443. Instead, the Christkind became popular in more Catholic countries, and remains the main gift bringer in many Catholic countries in Latin America.
  5. Clement A.Miles Christmas customs and traditions, their history and significance p. 230. Courier Dover Publications, 1976
  6. Forbes, Bruce David (1 October 2008). Christmas: A Candid History. University of California Press. ISBN   9780520258020. ...soon the Christ child was making the rounds with Saint Nicholas or a replacement figure.
  7. Matt, Michael J. "An Advent Reflection: Waiting for the Christ Child". The Remnant . Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  8. The history of Christkindl Retrieved 2009-12-20