02 December 2008

Getting in the Christmas Mood. . .

Here are a couple of pictures of Russia's Grandfather Frost, more or less similar to Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Weinachtsman, and the other quasi-religious figures who bring toys to well-behaved children at this time of year. I'm a big fan of fantantastic-looking and/or old world "Santas", and these two fit the bill nicely, but the second Grandfather Frost (below) is particularly magical.

It's really cold here in Central Illinois this morning. Brrr! About 15 degrees Fahrenheit (that's von Fahrenheit to us mere mortals!) and six inches or so of crunchy snow on the ground. The Grand Duchess and I did not have time to get the skis out for a quick tour yesterday evening, but we did bundle up after dinner for a nice walk around the neighborhood, which was really pretty with all of the wreaths and lights that people are beginning to put up on their doors and porches.

If you enjoy the winter, there's just something special about the first snowfall of the season. And of course, we are watching the trail reports from the Lapham Peak Nordic Ski Area just outside of Waukesha, Wisconsin (about three hours north of here) very closely. Reports this morning indicate that the 25 miles of trails are groomed and open, so we might make a quick trip up there sometime before Christmas since our Wisconsin State Park passes as good until the end of the year.

And finally, don't worry. Jonathan and I are not leaving the Action at Pickelhaubewicz unfinished. In fact, we are going to try to get a turn or two in this evening after supper, family things, and so forth. So, stay tuned!


Bluebear Jeff said...

I like these images of Grandfather Frost . . . a very nice option to the more common figures.

When I was a child, back in my home town, they used to have a Christmas parade and one fellow always marched in an outfit similar to Santa's except it was a hunter green with black fur instead of white (and, yes, he had a glorious black beard). I always liked it.

-- Jeff

Herzog Ignaz said...

It's always interesting to note what was remembered and what was forgotten in the self-induced cultural amnesia of German-America after World War I.

I wonder if the fellow with the black beard was recalling Schwarz Pieter, a regional analogue to Pelznickel, who carries the birch rods and lumps of coal for the naughty boys and girls.

Stokes Schwartz said...

Yep, I've also heard about Black Peter, who also helps the Dutch St. Niklaas in December. I didn't realize that he payed a role in German Christmas tradition too. My wife has never told me that!

Best Regards,


Herzog Ignaz said...

Other than the fact that Schwarz Pieter is dressed as a Spaniard (to emphasise to Dutch children his menace and former villainy, no doubt) the Dutch version is much the same as that seen elsewhere in western Germany.

The origin of the dusky sidekick seems to be in the mediaeval miracle play in which the Sultan is converted to Christianity through the miraculous intercession of St. Nicholas to rescue a shipwrecked pilgrim.

So recasting him as a Spaniard wasn't too far a reach--anti-Habsburg propaganda aside.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Heck I was just a little kid (this was back in the mid 1950s) . . . I just thought that he looked neat. I didn't know that there is a tradition about him. This is interesting.

-- Jeff

Fitz-Badger said...

Nice pictures and interesting bits of lore.
I guess the main differences between Santas and the like and wizards are wizards are usually not described as jolly or giving the appearance of being well-fed! lol

Giles said...

It's very cold here in London, in fact unseasonably so, but still not as cold as Illinois! I hope your family enjoys the run up to Christmas - IMHO usually more fun that the big day itself!



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