If you were under the impression that the well-oiled machine of Christmas was the work of just one white-bearded man, you'd be wrong; according to European folklore, good old Saint Nick has more companions than a courtesan, each with their own specific job to do during the jolly holiday season.
One such companion is the traditional German Christmas figure Knecht Ruprecht – which translates to English as Farmhand Rupert. He has been accompanying St. Nicholas since the Middle Ages and wears a brown robe, has a long dark beard, and usually carries with him a bag of ashes, and a rod of birch.
The story goes that Knecht Ruprecht would visit children on December 6, St. Nicholas Day, and ask them if they knew how to pray. Ruprecht would take their answer as an indication of whether the child was aware of the more significant meaning of Christmas.
If the child said 'yes,' they would be rewarded with a small treat of chocolate or a mandarin orange, but if the child said 'no' then Knecht Ruprecht would beat them with his birch rod and bag of ashes, or carry them away in his sack!
The prospect of this dark story terrifies children so much that the tale is well exploited by parents around Christmas time.
Check out the trailer for Krampus, a creature that is the rough equivalent to Knecht Ruprecht in Austria, below: