Christmastime in the Land of the Belsnickel by Matthew Burns

 

I came across this Belsnickel story on the Appalachian Lifestyles blog by Matthew Burns. He was gracious enough to grant me permission to repost it here. Enjoy.

Christmastime in the Land of the Belsnickel

There is a land
Of wilderness glades, and craggy cliffs,
Of hidden coves and ancient forests.
Home of the Belsnickel.

Among this dark forest
Under the roots of a great oak tree
There is a limestone cavern
That is completely hidden from view.

In this dank cavern, Belsnickel makes his home,
He is hairy and covered in animal pelts,
With moss in his hair and lichens on his skin.
He lives in the cave, with his loyal servant Rupert.

Rupert is donned in the same manner as Belsnickel,
Only he is even dirtier,
Blackened from the soot of many fires
And smudged with the grease of many meals.

Every year, when it gets to be about this time of year.
When the leaves have been shed, the winter winds start to howl,
And the forest creatures prepare for winter in their own way.
Belsnickel and Rupert start plotting….

Plotting mischief and mayhem, of wreaking havoc
On the intruders who live in their valley.
They regale in events of seasons past, when they scared cattle,
Carried away children, and spread fear throughout the countryside.

A favorite pastime of Belsnickel and Rupert is tossing dried leaves and moss.
Down the chimneys of the valley homesteads,
Causing flue fires that sometimes engulf the home.
And laugh as the intruders frantically try to save their belongings.

Belsnickel has also been known to feed wild onions to the dairy cows,
So their milk will taste of onions and will be unfit for use by the intruders.
But most of all, Belsnickel and Rupert await Christmas Eve.
When everyone is indoors, reveling in the merriment of the season.

That is when Belsnickel becomes most embittered for being disturbed.
He loves the Winter Solstice, but can’t even bay at the moon,
Without the intruders hunting him with their ferocious hounds.
Belsnickel reckons that if he can’t celebrate, neither will they.

Late in the night, he and Rupert go from house to house,
Prying open the windows and breaking down doors.
Seeking vengeance they will yank children from their slumber,
And beat them with switches. Rupert hopes to toss a few in his sack, as well.

At these thoughts, pure joy shows on the face of Belsnickel and Rupert,
Primitive chuckles erupt from Ruperts snaggled mouth.
They are both anxious for night to fall,
And to begin their night of havoc.

Hours later, the forest is again quiet and Belsnickel and Rupert,
Having returned to their lair, await morning.
Fulfilled with their accomplishments, they celebrate.
They are the protectors of the forest, and without them, all would be lost.

In the valley, the bewildered & fearful intruders tell their children,
“Der Belsnickel punishes you for being bad. Next year you must be better.”
Through the giant roots of the oak tree, Belsnickel glances at the moon,
And breaks into a sorrowful and celebratory howl.

Related Posts
→ Talking Christmas traditions with Don Yoder - Philly.com
In the Belsnickel's world, Christmas shouldn't be so enjoyable for the naughty kids. He comes at night, dressed in dirty furs, face blackened with charcoal. He has one purpose: To ...
Yes! Kick Santa to the curb and turn Belsknickel loose upon the land. For more 'Ask A PA Dutchman' episodes and Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch language videos check out Doulgas Madenford's YouTube channel.
→ Pennsylvania Folkways: The Belsnickel brings light and darkness - Reading Eagle After having read many articles about Belsnickel, I find that one the most interesting aspects about the tradition is ...
The sound is not that great but this clip is very informative and well worth watching if you want to learn more about the Pennsylvania Dutch tradtion of Der Belsnickel.
→ Friends of Hopewell Furnace celebrate “Bill of Rights Day" - Berks Mont News The Friends of Hopewell Furnace invite the public to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the Bill of ...
Santa Claus, the pleasant bearded elf dressed in red (in case you thought I was referring to some other Santa Claus), was not predestined to be a worldwide Christmas icon ...
→ Christmas Candylane opens Friday for holiday season - LancasterOnline
→ Pennsbury Manor prepping for festive Holly Nights celebration - Bucks County Courier Times Experience the enchantment of Pennsbury Manor by candlelight. Enjoy crackling bonfires, carolers, candlelit tours of the Manor ...
→ City of Reading embraces ugly Christmas tree - The Morning Call Perhaps Reading should adopt the phenomena of the "Worlds Ugliest Christmas Tree" as a yearly ritual. Pretty, well decorated trees can ...
→ “Days of the Belsnickel” Lunch Tour Pennsylvania at the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum Start with a video, then take a guided tour through the village, decked out Pennsylvania ...
The history of Santa Claus with reference to Belsnickel and Kris Kringle
→ This and That — The history of Santa Claus - Delphos Herald Belsnickel came from Pelz Nichol, stemming from St. Nicholas and the December 6th gift giving holiday. Kris Kringle ...
In my mind's eye, the fanciful events depicted in Der Belsnickel Suite portray two special days on a family farm in a rustic and sturdy home built from field stone. ...
→ ‘Yes Helen, there is a Belsnickel’.
→ Old-fashioned Christmas in Lehigh County offers look at Pennsylvania German life in 1842 - lehighvalleylive.com Saturday, December 6: 1:00 pm– 6:00 pm, last tour 5:15: A Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas Travel back ...
* I'm still in the process of formatting the Deitsch version. Scroll down for English version. Die Nacht for de Chrischdaag 'S waar die Nacht for de Chrischdaag und dorch es gans Haus ...
Birdsboro’s Daniel Boone Homestead Recreating 18th Century Christmas
→ Homestead Recreating 18th Century Christmas - Pottstown Post Watch out kids because Belsnickel's going to show up! danielboonehomestead.org 12/7: A Homestead Christmas 12-4pm Admission Adult (13+) $6.00, Child (5-12) $4.00. FDBH members free, ...
Der Belsnickel by Henry Harbaugh
Der Belsnickel Oh, do you know that ugly, that nasty man? Wow! Can you call that fellow a human being? Yes, that he is a human, may be believed by whomever wants to, He ...
→ Belsnickle Santa of yesteryear was not so jolly - The Herald-Dispatch More details here on the legendary Belsnickel. I do take issue with the following... Needless to say the first Belsnickle ...
Is He Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Pelznickel?
→ Is He Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Pelznickel? Santa Klaus is exhausted. Perhaps it's time for him to share the burden and ask for some help. Christmas isn't ...
Talking Christmas traditions with Don Yoder
Belsnickel: A slightly terrifying Pennsylvania Dutch tradition
VIDEO | Ask A PA Dutchman: The Belsnickel
Pennsylvania Folkways: The Belsnickel brings light and darkness
VIDEO | A living history presentation on the PA Dutch tradition of the Der Belsnickel
Friends of Hopewell Furnace celebrate “Bill of Rights Day”
VIDEO| Origin of the “Belsnickel” In Under A Minute
Meet Belsnickel, the Counter Claus
Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane opens Friday for holiday season
Pennsbury Manor prepping for festive Holly Nights celebration
City of Reading embraces ugly Christmas tree
Landis Valley Museum “Days of the Belsnickel” Lunch Tour
VIDEO: What is a Belsnickel?
The history of Santa Claus with reference to Belsnickel and Kris Kringle
Der Belsnickel Suite, a symphonic work by Dave Kline performed by the Reading Philharmonic Orchestra
‘Yes Helen, there is a Belsnickel’
Troxell-Steckel Farm Museum old-fashioned Christmas offers look at Pennsylvania German life in 1842
Twas The Night Before Christmas – Translated into Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch by Thomas C. Zimmerman
Birdsboro’s Daniel Boone Homestead Recreating 18th Century Christmas
Der Belsnickel by Henry Harbaugh
Belsnickle Santa of yesteryear was not so jolly
Is He Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Pelznickel?

Comments are closed.