Pere Fouettard who is the French version of the whipping father is a character who often accompanies St.Nicholas while he visits children on St.Nicholas day on December 6. When Nicholas gifts well-behaved children with candies and small gifts, Pere Fouettard whips the naughty kids. Though popular in the eastern part of France, characters that are similar to him are present all over Europe. The whipping father as his name signifies is said to bring a whip along with him to beat naughty kids. The association of Pere Fouettard with St. Nicholas dates back to fourth century and it represents existence of evil as well as god's infinite mercy. Though there are various legends associated with Fouettard, the common one is that of a butcher who killed three boys but was brought to life by St. Nicholas. Repenting in his actions, he promises to become the follower of St.Nicholas and since then he accompanies the kind saint on the eve of St. Nicholas. Read further to know more about Pere Fouettard and the myths associated with him.
French Whipping Father
Legend Of The Butcher
Though there are plenty of legends and stories associated with Le Pere Fouettard, the most popular one is that of an inn keeper or a butcher who captured three wealthy boys who were on their way to the religious boarding school. With the help of his wife, he robs the kids and kills them. St. Nicholas who discovers the crime resurrects the children. Seeing this, Pere Fouettard repents in the decision and becomes the assistant of St. Nicholas, offering to show gratitude wherever required. Some versions of this story say that St.Nicholas prompted him to be his assistant as a punishment for his crimes.
Siege Of Metz
There is another story which is associated with Pere Fouettard. During the siege of Metz in 1552, people burned the effigy of King Charles Quint and dragged him through the city. In the meantime, a group of tanners created a grotesque character who punishes the children. After the liberation of Metz, the character which was created by the tanners and the burned effigy of Charles Quint got incorporated into a character known as Le Pere Fouettard. Somehow, the events that surround the city and the burning of the effigy coincided with the passing of St.Nicholas and hence, he became the bad counterpart of St.Nicholas.
Le Pere Fouettard In United States
In 1930's, Le Pere Fouettard became a part of the Christmas celebrations in United States in the name of Father Flog or Spanky which was identical to the French character. Father Flog had nothing to do with Christmas and had a female counterpart in the name, Mother Flog. They punished naughty and mischievous children for committing crimes.
The portrayal of Le Pere is of a man with a sinister face who is dressed in dark robes with unruly hair and a long beard. He visits the households with a whip, large stick or bundle of switches. There are other versions of the character with him wearing a wicker back pack in which placed can be kept and carried away. Some versions portray him as someone who carries a huge bundle of sticks on his back and his face is often darkened to varying degrees which is according to few because his face is born out of a burned effigy.
Pere Fouettard is one among the characters which is associated with Christmas. Hope this article familiarises you with Pete Fouettard and the legends associated with him.
Pere Fouettard is a French version of whipping father. Read further to know more about Pere Fouettard and the associated stories.