Dec 10, 2020

Creepmas Creeps - Belsnickel


Belsnickel originates in Germany and was brought to America by the folks that are now know as Pennsylvania Dutch. He tends to appear a couple weeks before Christmas and is usually described as a ragged looking person wearing dirty clothes and furs, sometimes with antlers. Belsnickel is definitely one of the less scary holiday figures. While he may dole out punishment to misbehaved children with his switch, he also carries a sack with treats for the good kids.
Here is a first hand account of "Beltznickle" from Maryland from around 1830 (Wikipedia)

He was known as Kriskinkle, Beltznickle and sometimes as the Christmas woman. Children then not only saw the mysterious person, but felt him or rather his stripes upon their backs with his switch. The annual visitor would make his appearance some hours after dark, thoroughly disguised, especially the face, which would sometimes be covered with a hideously ugly phiz - generally wore a female garb - hence the name Christmas woman - sometimes it would be a veritable woman but with masculine force and action. He or she would be equipped with an ample sack about the shoulders filled with cakes, nuts, and fruits, and a long hazel switch which was supposed to have some kind of a charm in it as well as a sting. One would scatter the goodies upon the floor, and then the scramble would begin by the delighted children, and the other hand would ply the switch upon the backs of the excited youngsters - who would not show a wince, but had it been parental discipline there would have been screams to reach a long distance.

Some accounts from 1870 from New York and Philadelphia say Belsnickle was a bit more extreme with his punishments, kidnapping or drowning bad kids!

Belsnickers circa 1910

"Belsnicking" was a tradition where young people would disguise themselves and go door to door. The home owner would try to guess their identity. The Belsnicker would remove their mask with a correct guess. A wrong guess would get them invited inside for some sort of treat.

Here's a 2019 video from Inside Edition featuring Belsnickel.

Be sure to click below to see all the Creepmas celebrants!

I'm a CREEP for The 13 Days of CREEPMAS

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