Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm Scared of Le Père Fouettard

In two weeks it will be Christmas. The year has flown by so quickly, I can hardly believe that soon, The Husband and I will wake up at my mother's house on Christmas morning in Dublin, sit down to a full Irish breakfast (hint hint Mother) and then be off to celebrate the holiday with the family.

This time last year, I was preparing for my first Christmas in France. Out of curiosity, I googled French Christmas traditions and this is what I found out (it's kinda scary).

(originally titled Nothing Says Christmas Like a Flogging and posted 15.12.09)

OK, this is weird. I was doing a little reading about French Christmas traditions. Figure since I'm here, might as well find out the happenings of the holiday, French style. And there is no use asking The Boyfriend, he is useless at relaying this kind of information.


In France, Santa Clause is Père Noël, nothing strange there, but Père Noël has a partner, and it's not Rudolph. It's an evil man named...dun dun dun....
Le Père Fouettard!

(sounds a bit scary doesn't it, thought it needed that dun dun dun).

According to my sources, the ever reliable Wikipedia,  Le Père Fouettard was a guy who kidnapped three little boys, robbed them, killed them, and then chopped them up and put them in a stew.

Holy Reindeer Droppings! How the Fudge does this guy end up having anything to do with Sugar Plums and Mistletoe? Apparently, Jolly Ol' St. Nick some how discovered the crime (maybe when Le Père Fouettard's name was flashing in red lights all over the naughty list) and magically resurrected the children (nice tie in to J.C. there - it is his birthday after all). Le Père Fouettard ends up feeling bad and becomes St. Nick's partner and goes around with him on Christmas.

But get this, Le Père Fouettard doesn't become all full of holiday cheer like Ebeneezer Scrooge, he's still sinister, so instead of handing out pressies, he punishes all the naughty children instead. Usually with a good old fashioned flogging.

Nothing says Christmas like a flogging.

Safe to say, I'm usually a well behaved girl, but after reading about you know who (don't want to type his name again in case it has some sort of Beetlejuice effect) I'm going to be on my best behavior this holiday season.

Don't want you know who coming to town.



  1. My students HATE père fouettard! they know all kinds of songs about him - he really is evil!

  2. Off to Dublin with you! Sounds a little scary spending Christmas in France.

    another fantasy broken....

    xo Jane

  3. My mom collects Belsnickels, which are very similar. They are mini Santas that wear a blindfold and carry something to beat the kids with. I have to read up on it to see the logistics of it, but she has like thirty of them. All the little kids stare at them all the time. Funny!

  4. I'm sure there's rules against le pere fouettard. He sounds wrong in all dorts of ways. In Japan, they seem to find Santa an amusing gaijin sideshow. I think I'm quite glad.

  5. I think le Pere Fouettard resides at Walmart because I ALWAYS feel I've endured some form of flogging or fleecing when I leave that place. Creepy, creepy, creepy! I, too, will try to be on my best behavior!

  6. Wow, that is terrifying. I thought those "Elf on the Shelf" dolls were creepy, but this takes it to a whole different level.

  7. Why do that picture of Pere Fouettard look a lot like Inspector Clouseau? Am I the only one that sees this? It's really messing with me! lol

  8. The tradition is almost gone in alot of France. It's very Grimms-fairytale scary. He does look like an old-time policeman.

  9. Sara, I did not know about Santa's partner. I wonder if he is the b..... who blew my electricity two Cmases ago.

  10. You have the most fascinating stories.
    If I have't told you before, I am following you. Your stories are hard to resist. :)

  11. This is the first time I've heard of Le Pere Fouettard- he's scary! Isn't Christmas suppose to be all jolly? I guess he makes sure les enfants are well behaved.

  12. Makes switches and ashes look positively inviting, doesn't he? Have a wonderful trip back to Ireland.

  13. I much prefer the full Irish breakfast :) Happy Holidays Sara!

  14. I'd forgotten about the flogging until the image of you know who popped up in my reader. AAaahh! Would there be (proper) baked beans in a full Irish breakfast?

  15. Wow! Do the kids in France seem better behaved??

  16. I knew about le Pere Fouettard but I had no idea he had such an evil past (kidnapping, killing, and cooking little boys--wow). This post is hilarious. I love the way you write--seems like you always say something that makes me laugh!! Are you writing a book? I'd certainly buy it.
    Have a joyeux Noel in Dublin!!

  17. This just confirms what I have studied in graduate school about children's literature. We often are so protective about children, however for centuries look at the kind of scary stories told to children.

  18. Mama mia, that is scary! I'm grateful I'm not a naughty girl in France although this would be a useful tool for me to use at school. Kids aren't scared any more by the thought that Santa might not come if they are naughty. One little boy told me last week that Santa comes anyway even if he's been bad. I wish I could have told him about Le Pere Fouettard!

  19. Whoa, that gives me the creeps and I might have nightmares... I think that Beth is so funny...Walmart! hah!

    This is a bit of a dark twist on the people Père Noël keeps company with!


  20. And because I just learned the word "Fou" during that pre-packaged soup mishap - I automatically assumed this cat was whacko before I read your post. And there you go. Love you're doing Christmas in Dublin! I spent 3 Christmases in England and I adored them.

  21. Holy reindeer droppings indeed! That's some crazy shit right there... It's a wonder children grown up normal?!

    Have a wonderful time in Dublin...bring on the full "Irish" breakfast. Is that any different than a full "English" breakfast?

  22. Sara,
    Just found your blog and you crack me up! I love the way you describe your friends and family! I was totally unaware that Santa had such a scary partner! Sure glad he resides in France! Hopefully he won't be able to get through airport security and make it to the U.S.! Think we will stick with the lump of coal and swithces story! I am your newest follower and will be checking in often!
    Rebecca @

  23. Visions of sugar plums dance in their head, indeed. Visions of torture more like it. Is that why French children are better behaved than American ones perhaps? They're terrified of pere fouettard? (my dang keyboard won't place the accent the right way. Hope PF doesn't come after me for that!)

  24. That resurrecting the children thing probably comes from St. Nicholas, because he supposedly did that. Although in le nord they have a separate day for St. Nicholas than Père Noël (and kids get presents for both! Totally not fair).

    I'm also kind of mad at everyone I've met in France, because when I've asked them what naughty children get from Santa, they say "nothing." This is technically true I guess if this other guy doles out the floggings, but still. I think this should be what they explain to me when I say, "bad kids get coal from Santa in America!"

  25. The guy is called Knecht Ruprecht in Austria and Germany. But he accompanies St Nikolaus, who comes to our houses on the evening of the 5th. Good kids will get there boots filled with apples, mandarines, nuts and chocolates. Bad kids will get whipped. Tough life where I come from ;)
    For Christmas, it's the Christkind not Santa Claus who brings the presents. It flies in through open windows on the late afternoon of the 24th.


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