Home History Culture Customs, Tradition, and Memories

Christmas - Knecht Ruprecht

Translation of poem from German to English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado


Knecht Ruprecht

(Note 1 - see below)

Way out from the forest is where I am from
I must tell you, it’s rally “Christmasing” (Note 2)

On every pine tree top
I saw golden lights gleaming;

And up in the sky, from heaven’s gate
I saw the wide-eyed Christchild.

And as a strolled through the dark pines,
A bright voice called out to me:

“Knecht Ruprecht,” it called out, “old fellow, (3)
Lift up those legs and hide yourself!

The candles are starting to burn,
Heaven’s gate has swung wide open,

Old and young now must
Rest from the chase of your lives;

And tomorrow morn’ I’ll fly down to earth,
And then it is to be Christmas!”

I spoke: “Oh, dearest Lord, Christ,
My journey is nearly over;

Must I yet go to this town
Where those pure and good children are.” -

“Are you carrying the bag?”
I said: “The bag, it is here.;

For apples, nuts and almonds
Are loved by pious children.” -

“Are you carrying the switch as well?”
I said, “The switch, it is here.;

But only for those children who are bad,
It will meet them on the right part of their body.”

The Christchild then said, “So it is, right and proper,
Now go with God, my loyal servant!”

Way out from the forest is where I am from,
I must tell you, it’s rally “Christmasing”

Now tell me how I’ll find things here!
Will there be good children, or bad?

Note 1: This translation makes no attempt at maintaining the rhyming scheme of the original German, but neither does it adhere strictly to word-for-word rendering.

Note 2: An extremely awkward phrase to translate. An even freer translation would be “it is beginning to look an awful lot like Christmas,”

Note 3: The “Knecht” [Servant, Assistant] Ruprecht traditionally accompanied the Christchild on Christmas Eve. His role was to test the children as to their knowledge of the proper Christmas and Bible verses, and to mete out punishment if deserved, while the Christchild was there to praise the good children.

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this poem.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Libraries
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Library North Dakota State University North Dakota State University GRHC Home