Monster Monday: Père Fouettard

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about Père Fouettard.

Hans Trapp in Wintzenheim, Alsace (1953) (attribution in link)
Hans Trapp in Wintzenheim, Alsace (1953) (attribution in link)

Père Fouettard is a figure popular in eastern and northern France. He accompanies Saint Nicholas at Christmas time and punishes naughty children. His name means Father Whipper in French. He is usually depicted as a man with a mean expression, a scraggly beard, and unkempt hair. He usually carries a whip and a wicker basket on his back to carry away children who misbehave.

The story goes that originally he was an innkeeper who captured three boys who were traveling to school in order to rob them. He killed them and cut them up into pieces and made a stew out of them. Saint Nicholas restored the boys to life, and as penance, Père Fouettard became his traveling companion every year. In the Alsace region of France, he may be known as Hans Trapp.

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