Yesterday’s blog post brought about some lively discussion, especially with regard to this black and white photograph which supposedly showed Santa.
So today, after becoming much more informed regarding the character shown in this photo, we will discuss this matter more thoroughly.
Yesterday afternoon, we received a phone call from Rev. Roger Moldenhauer, a dear friend of our museum who is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He related the following information to us. He said that he was told about this character by Dr. William A. Kramer. I will share more biographical information about him later in this post. Here is what Rev. Moldenhauer shared with us. I’ll use his exact words.
Just a follow-up on today’s blog and the “scary” figure in one of the old b/w photos. That figure is St. Nikolas’s alter-ego, Knecht Ruprecht.According to Dr. William Kramer, who for many years was head of our Lutheran schools at Synodical HQ in St. Louis, Knecht Ruprecht would visit homes in Altenburg and Frohna in early December to examine the children concerning their knowledge of memory work from the Catechism and German hymn verses assigned at school. Beneath the “scary” costume was usually an uncle or another male relative. By Thanksgiving the children were really bearing down on their memory work in preparation for that visit.The switches on the backpack would be left for the child who didn’t know his/her memory work.Thinking this through theologically, Nikolas and Knecht Ruprecht were Gospel-Law figures. But, I fear that no matter what CFW Walther would say, Law and Gospel somehow were mingled in the practice.Traditionally Germans do not associate St. Nikolas with Christmas and Christmas presents. If someone comes with gifts for Christmas, he’s called “Der Weihnachtsmann.” (“The Christmas Guy”)
Now for a little biographical information about Dr. William Kramer. Dr. Kramer was born in Frohna, Missouri, the son of Theodor and Mathilde (Burfeind) Kramer. He was born in 1900. He attended Concordia Lutheran School in Frohna and later on attended Concordia Teacher College in River Forest, Illinois. William would marry Renata Gertrude Welp, the daughter of Henry Welp, who taught at Concordia, Frohna for fifty years. You can find out more about the life of Dr. Kramer and his contributions to Lutheran education at this link: