Perchta, otherwise known as 'Berchta' or 'Percht', originated from a Germanic goddess and other similar female figures as per the Alpine traditions of Southern Germanic paganism. Perchta was referred as the belly slitter as that is how she punished people who went against cultural norms. The name 'Perchta' with its German origin clearly points towards the indigenous nature of the figure. She is often attributed with a dual sided nature and she has been described alternatively as kind yet violent and old yet beautiful. Her character is believed to have been exaggerated for Christmas by many Christian authors. It is believed that Perchta visits people's homes on the Twelfth Night and gives silver coins to the children and young servants who have worked hard throughout the year. Perchta also ensures that the flax is completely spun and, if not, she open bellies the lazy people responsible. In order to gather more information about this Christmas character, scroll further and find out more interesting facts.
Perchta in German means 'the bright one'. Refer to the article below and find out more about this Christmas character.
- Perchta (Berchta or Percht), which means ‘the bright one’, is related to the name ‘Berchtentag’ which indicates ‘the feast of Epiphany’. She is generally referred as a wild character who belonged to the forest.
- In Slovenia, the literal meaning of ‘Perchten’ is female masks that represent the support of Frau Perchta or Pehta Baba, depicting an ancient goddess. These masks are displayed in various processions from the last week of December to the first days of January, including 6th January.
- Nowadays, the costumes of the characters Krampus and Perchten have become very similar to Perchta because of which there is a loss of distinction between them. Perchten is essentially related to mid-winter, souls of the dead and embodiment of the fate.
- According to the German mythology, Perchta is the goddess of vegetation and fertility. Depending upon the place, she acquires different names such as Percht, Frau Berchte, Quantembermann, Kwaternik, Frau Faste, Frau Berch, Posterli, and Frontastenweiber.
- In the Alpine regions of Austria, Perchta was believed to be a safeguard and well wisher of the good people while she also severely punished the bad. This tradition led young men to dress up like evil spirits to banish those who accompanied Frau Perchta. Along with other rituals which followed, was the protective smoking of the house and the burning of special herbs during winter. These customs were believed to liven up the spirits of the New Year which rested under the snow cover on the soil.
- During medieval times, the church even recorded instances when food was left for Perchta at night by sinners in order to obtain prosperity and well-being for the coming year.
- It is believed that Perchta is associated with spinning and spindle. During summer, while the shepherds bring her flax, she in turn blesses their flocks. She is often spotted walking along steep slopes with a golden spindle in her hand. Perchta is said to be very particular about finish spinning on time and any delay in spinning is said to bring bad fortune to the people responsible.
Perchta may have come to associated with Christmas over the years but her distinctly pagan origin and her close association with nature bear testimony to the fact that she, in fact, belongs to the pre-Christian era and has immense significance in pagan folklore.