What an elusive character this Kris Kringle is. I first met up with him in 1964. Actually my earliest memory, that is. Living in a brownstone on E. 72, my parents were gone all day long. The weather was extremely cold and my Uncle Ray was watching my sister and me, until my parents returned home, from wherever it was they were at. After watching the Flintstones on the black and white that evening, we were ushered into bed and told that, when we woke up, something magical would happen.
So, of course there was no way that we were ever going to get to sleep! That was when my Uncle Ray read my sister and me, "Twas The Night Before Christmas."
I have no memory of falling asleep, but I did remember the part of the jolly old man, Kris Kringle and his eight tiny reindeers. When my sister and I woke up, something magical had happened. Kris had paid a visit to E. 72, for in the living room was one of the most beautiful Christmas trees my sister and I had ever laid eyes on. After that year, we would chase the entire year away knowing that Dec. 25th would be here and Kris Kringle would return, and that for just one night, something magical could happen.
So now my crazy historic side has taken over and I really do want to know, where did Kris Kringle come from??
This information is from "The Historic St. Charles, Missouri Christmas Traditions":
Kris Kringle is of German and American descent. The figure of Santa Claus first begins to show up among the Pennsylvania Dutch in the mid 1820's in the form of Kris Kringle, or as he was also known, "Belsnickle". Belsnickle is a derivative of the German, "Pelz-nickle," which means "Nicholas in Furs."
Belsnickle would travel the Pennsylvania countryside ringing his bell looking for good children to give out his small gifts of cakes and nuts to. If Belsnickle came across a child who had not been behaving in the past year, he would warn the child to be good or else he might give them a smack with his rod.