Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Perchta, Berchta, or Bertha is a rare female Santa equivalent. She serves as a year round guardian of the beasts and leader of the wild hunt. During the Twelve Days of Christmas, between Christmas and Epiphany, she oversees spinning and weaving.

She may appear either pale and beautiful and dressed all in white or elderly and haggard. No matter what her form, she always has one large foot that she can't get rid of. Sometimes it's a goose or swan foot. It may be that foot that works the treadle of the spinning wheel.

Perchta has her own feast day during which you're supposed to eat fish and gruel. If you forget her feast or eat the wrong things she will slit you open that night and stuff you with straw. Alas, I can't find when her feast is other than some time during the twelve days of Christmas.

Also during those twelve days she enters homes at night to judge the children and young servants. Those who work hard and behave might find a small silver coin in a pail or their shoe. Those who did not would be slit open, their stomach and guts removed, and straw and pebbles placed there instead. Of particular concern was whether the girls has spun their quota of flax or wool that year.

Perchta controls strange beasts known collectively as perchten. The perchten are long horned, hairy, demonic bipeds. Some people would dress up as evil spirits to drive the perchten away.

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