Today let me tell you about a figure that is quite well known in Germany, the Christ Child.
When I was a child, it was a tradition that the younger children in my family visited my grandmother on Christmas Eve after the tree had been decorated. Of course the reason was that we had to be out of the way of preparations for the evening, from cleaning to cooking. My grandmother had to deal with our impatience growing by the minute and the excitement when the phone call came that we could come home now. A popular TV program called "We are waiting for the Christ Child" helped with keeping us entertained, but I also remember board games that couldn't really catch my attention, though.
Who is the Christ Child?
Martin Luther and other reformers rejected the idea of venerating saints, so in the 16th century Luther introduced the Christ Child as a gift bringer instead of Saint Nicholas. Interestingly, the tradition lives on in the more Catholic regions of South Germany while in the North that is more Protestant the Christ Child isn't necessarily known at all. The gift bringer there is the "Weihnachtsmann" which literally translates to "Christmas Man", the German name for Santa Claus.
I doubt that I was the only child wondering how baby Jesus was able to carry all the gifts, but over time the connection of the Christ Child and Jesus became more and more unclear, anyway.
I don't remember if someone had told me it was baby Jesus or if that was my own idea. For others the Christ Child is actually an angel like figure that is usually portrayed with a halo, wings, and golden locks.
As a matter of fact, my sister still remembers how we were allowed into the living room and the window was still open because "the Christ Child had just flown away", and how she went to the window first hoping she'd still catch a glimpse of it! She was convinced it was an angel.
My younger brother, on the other hand, remembers the window being closed loudly in order to confirm the Christ Child had just left before we got let into the room. He, too, believed in an angel.
I guess no
one told me that because when I visited the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt
many years ago, I was completely surprised by the Christ Child being a
Had I even been celebrating with the family? ;-)
Christ Child in the 1st edition of the "Struwwelpeter" (1845)