Monday, April 02, 2012

B is for Belsnickel: A Childhood Tradition Brought to Life

When I was little December 6th was a big deal. That was the night that Belsnickel came to visit and we all waited for him with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Belsnickel always brought gifts and treats but we had heard rumors that if we were not good children he might just carry us off in his sack. This was a popular tradition in Pennsylvania Dutch communities that had been carried on since the 16th century. Belsnickel is much older than Santa Claus but he is also in danger of dying out. So I decided to write a story about him and it proved to be one of the most enjoyable writing experiences I've ever had.

In order to make the story interesting to people who did not know about Belsnickel I told the story of Oliver Eberstark, a recluse who had once been a popular guy but was now something of a hermit until his boyhood friend, Father Nicholas Bauer, connives to get him to play Belsnickel for the children of their home town. Father Nick is aided by the lovely Gretchen Fritz who admits she had a crush on Oliver when all of them were kids.

I wrote the story as a 99 cent novella available for Kindle as The Reluctant Belsnickel of Opelt's Wood and it has gotten lots of lovely compliments. I found working with these characters so enjoyable that I've continued writing about them and plan a collection of stories about the Pennsylvania Dutch community of Marienstadt called The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall for this coming holiday season. I never thought a childhood tradition would bring so much happiness to adults.

This blog post is part of the April 2012 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Aww that sounds like such a delightful story! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Fantastic word belsnickel. It sounds like a great story too--something different.

  3. What a fun word to say. I appreciate you providing the background behind Belsnickel.

  4. This sounds very interesting. Sounds like it might be fun to read with my 9 year old. Thanks for posting!

  5. Thanks very much for your visits. It is not a children's story but geared toward adults and young adults.


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