Katrin drew our attention to the Christmas character of the Christkind, found in regions as diverse as Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Rebublic, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and, according to Wikipedia, “…parts of Hispanic America, in certain areas of southern Brazil and in the Acadiana region of Louisiana.”
The Christkind was introduced by the German Protestant priest Martin Luther (1483-1546). At the time, tradition held that gifts were given by St. Nicholas. Protestants, however, didn’t acknowledge saints, so they needed an alternative mythological gift giver. The Christkind was originally depicted as baby Jesus, but in many places today is instead an angelic blond child or adult woman.
More photographs of the Christkind:
(source)Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.