Belsnickel isn’t quite as popular as Santa Claus. It might have something to do with the fact that he beats children, but who’s to say? He’s a figure that comes out of old German folklore described as a small irritable man dressed head to toe in fur. He’s mean looking, dirty, and never goes anywhere without his switch (which he uses to whip children).
His job is to make sure that nobody appears on the “Naughty” list by the time December 25th roles around. How does he do this? Well, a few weeks before Christmas day, Belsnickel shows up and beats all the bad little children and scares the good ones. The bad children learn their lesson and start being good, while the good children are scared to death to do anything bad. After he’s finished his duty, Santa Claus is in the clear to deliver presents to every little boy and girl!
This tradition isn’t widely followed by most celebrants of Christmas today, however Belsnickel is still a recognized figure in parts of Southwest Germany, the Pennsylvania Dutch community, and Newfoundland.
Belsnickel Shows Up at a School in Kutztown, Pennsylvania
During season 9 of The Office, Dwight portrayed the character Belsnickel in the episode “Dwight Christmas” – part of which can be seen below: