December 5

St Nicholas Eve

I have hundreds of German and Austro-Hungarian Christmas cards from World War I but this is the sole example I have of one that employs St Nicholas. Though the saint was a popular gift-bringer in German-speaking Catholic territories, he seems to have had no place on such cards. It is the Christ Child (Christkindl) or a Santa Claus (der Weihnachtsmann) figure who appears as the bearer of supernatural bounty.

Accompanying St Nicholas is Krampus, a beloved figure in Austria and some neighbouring areas. Krampus is portrayed as a demon who will threaten kids with chains, switches, or a pack into which he will throw bad children. Between the two is the Christmas angel. In Hungarian and German is the wish “Merry Christmas”

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