YuleTide: Santa Klaus and His Companions #4 – FATHER WHIP (PERE FOUETTARD)
Posted by invizweb on December 23, 2008
There are legends of a man long ago who lead lost children into his meat shop in France. Even though it is not explicitly stated in all versions of the tale, it needn’t be said of how these kids ended up the Christmas dinner of Pere Fouettard.
In one modern version of the story, Fouettard and his wife lead three children they believed to be rich enrollments to the local seminary into their shop where the boys were drugged, had their throats slit, stripped naked, put in the camel clutch (OK I made that part up), seasoned, and stewed. The wife would soon answer a knocking on the door which revealed itself to be the workings of Father Christmas. Enraged, he resurrected the three lads whole, and chained the Butcher. Hence that day Pere Fouettard was a servant to Papa Noel, and became analogous to the Boogeyman in France.
In a Medieval variation to the story the three kids were hungry, poverty-stricken, and lost in a field until they were attracted by the single Pere’s house lights. In this version, he cooked them because pork meat was scarce and in demand (whereas he and his wife were cannibals in the other version). Apparently this version took place recently after Saint Nicholas’ death as he was scared shitless when the old man forced his way into his home shortly after the kids were salted and thrown into the brine. After resurrecting the three whole in this version, Pere Fouettard throws himself at Santa for repentance, which the Jolly One offered as “God allows all to redeem themselves.” From that point on, he assisted Santa in dispensing spankings to the “weak of spirit.”
How he met Santa Klaus withstanding, this fearsome being with a black uncouth beard, draped in all black, has accompanied the Saint ever since predominantly in Eastern France. His function is to whip misbehaving children, hence Pere Fouettard, which translates in English to “the Whipping Father.” This trait is attributed to the legend that his character was created by leather or hide tanners, as a character to celebrate Christmas with their children. He is also known as Hans Trapp.
Schmutzli is a character in Switzerland who is similar to Pere Fouettard in that he also attacked and/or kidnapped “bad kids”. More can be read about him here.