Naughty or Nice, St. Nicholas and Krampus Are Coming!

The feast day of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, is celebrated today, the sixth of December.

stnick St. Nicholas travels with two assistants and only one of them is carrying treats…


Maybe it shouldn’t be taken for granted that piles of presents with YOUR name will  appear under the tree.

basketIs it time to admit you slipped kale under the table to the dog during dinner when everyone was arguing about the election?  Or that you played video games your mother said were off-limits at your best friend’s house all the time?

krampusIt may be too late.  So where IS he going?

The good news is that there are eighteen more days for everyone to clean up their acts before Christmas!

The prints were taken from Frantiska Doubrava’s suite of lithographs, Kolem vanoce [Around Christmas Time] (Brno: Edice Dobre umeni I, 1945).  Cotsen 46377.

St. Nicholas Reimagined by Modernist Style Icons

There was a demand for equal time for St. Nicholas this week to balance the previous coverage on Santa.  This Sunday is the feast of St. Nicholas, so it’s the time to pay tribute to Western civilization’s other major dispenser of gifts to the naughty and nice.

Santa Claus is not exactly a style icon in that schlumfpy red suit and elf hat trimmed with fur. Okay, the suit makes sense for anyone whose job description requires him to ride around the world in an open sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer on a freezing winter night.  Warm, comfortable, and casual, but not hot by any stretch of any fashionista’s imagination…

And Saint Nicholas?  Once upon a time he didn’t think fashion mattered, as those tattersall check pants under the bishop’s robe scream loud and clear.  Not a good look, as Heidi Klumm would say.   A one-off Fendi sack might help.  And Knecht Ruprecht so needs to lose those boots.


Felix Timmermans, St. Nicholas in Trouble. Translated from the German by Amy Flashner. Illustrated by Else Wenz-Vietor (New York: Harper & Brothers, ca. 1932) Cotsen 14312.

St. Nicholas got it through his head that he had to get serious about the brand and hire some image consulting firms.  Here are two options from the Wiener Werkstatte that include makeovers for Krampus.  Pretty sharp accessories!


Dita Moser. Kalendar 1908 (Vienna: Weiner Werkstatte, 1907) Cotsen 52825.

diveky st nicholas krampus

St. Nicholas and Krampus post card by Jozsef von Diveky ca. 1915. Reproduced courtesy of Getty Images.

Then there is Lou Loeber’s radically stripped down ensemble, with Zwaert Pieter rockin’  stripes, from Nieuwe Beelding.   Glad the choice isn’t up to me.  All three work!


S. Franke. Gouden vlinders. Illustrated by Lou Loeber (Blaricum: de Waelburgh, 1927) Cotsen 6085.