Père Fouettard

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 Haven’t you ever wondered how St. Nicholas makes it to all our homes across the globe with only the company of his reindeer?! I suppose he could have satellite radio on board or have a device loaded with his favorite podcasts. Though, according to legends, St. Nicholas was accompanied by Père Fouettard.

The french call Père Fouettard, ‘Father Whipper’.  Legend has it that Père Fouettard places lumps of coal in stockings or gives out floggings to unruly or bad behaved children, this always took place on December 6th, which is St Nicholas’ Day. 

There are so many versions of this tale as with many old tales and lore. The most gruesome we found was the tale of Père Fouettard told in 1150, he was portrayed as an innkeeper who captured three wealthy boys that were on their way to a religious school. With the assistance of his wife, he drugs the boys, slits their throats and cuts them up to make a barrel stew. When St. Nicholas becomes aware of this he forces Père Fouettard to repent and become his assistant as punishment. 

 Some legends describe Père Fouettard as a scraggly haired, long bearded man dressed in very dark robes, typically holding a whip, stick or switches. While others depict him as a beast that holds children down and spanks them. 

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During the 1930s in the United States, Père Fouettard was named ‘Father Flog’ or ‘Spanky’ and was included in American Christmas time lore as one who doled out punishments to children along side his wife, ‘Mother Flog’ .

Father and Mother Flog are derived from an early nineteenth century tale. An English translation of a French tale told by parents to incite good behavior in their children. This was eventually produced for a 1930’s comic book.

Regardless, where this tale began or Père Fouettard really was… it will definitely make you think twice about being naughty or nice! 


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