Category Archives: Legends

Happy Saint Nicholas Day

Happy St Nicolas Day

When I was a child, we would put out our stockings on December 5, hoping Saint Nicholas would bring us a small toy in anticipation of Christmas. Besides getting a gift, I had never given much thought to the actual Saint called Nicolas, or why we celebrated this “small Christmas” weeks before the real one. Eventually, my parents stopped reminding us to put out our stockings, and the entire holy day got wrapped into Christmas.

Pc Vive St Nicolas j 60” by janwillemsen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

There are many stories about Saint Nicholas, most written hundreds of years after his death. He is said to have been born wealthy but gave up his life of luxury for a life of service. In one of his most famous acts of kindness, he is said to have saved three girls from being sold into prostitution by dropping gold coins through their window each night for three nights so their father could afford a dowry for them. Nicholas is attributed to saving three innocent soldiers from execution and also for chopping down a tree that had been possessed by a demon.

But a legend of Saint Nicholas Day that I had never heard of, was that of Krampus. When I began researching legends of the Vosges for the book, I came across this sidekick of Saint Nicholas. I thought I would write about him to bring another legend of the Vosges to light.

Krampus began as a pagan celebration. He is said to be the son of Hel from Norse mythology but became wrapped into the Christian tradition of Christmas.

So, if you are reading this on December 6, Nikaustag, Saint Nicholas Day, that means that you have been good and Krampus did not eat you the night before. Kinda scary for a child’s story, but …whatever…

“Gruß vom Krampus: Greetings from the Krampus: Happy Christmas? by Artist unknown” by dullhunk is marked with CC BY 2.0.

According to the legend, a half-goat, half demonlike creature with long curly horns, a forked tongue, and a furry black body named Krampus, would arrive on December 5, Krampusnacht or Krampus Night. He would chase both children and adults through town, poking them with sticks if they were naughty. Particularly, disobedient children would be visited that night, and depending upon the severity of the misbehavior, would either be eaten or would be given coal.

Happy Krampus Night and Happy Nicholas Day tomorrow!

Vosges Christmas Legend

Between Yule and Twelfth Night, whilst the dead still walk among the living as they usually do during these thinly veiled times; beware the deep of the night. Be sure to leave the final sheaf of wheat in the field and do not remove the feast from the table to allow the ancestral spirits to come and collect their portion, else, the household of Hellequin will collect their share of souls.

The Legend of the Baptism of Angels

Lake de la Maix Map
Sign at the Lake de la Maix

This story, as told by Monique Marie François, was relayed to me by my cousin, Françoise Cordier, and is woven into the backbone of the novel, FROM THE DROP OF HEAVEN.

“When the land of Salm was not yet called Salm, Good Stones of Bethlehem gave a wonderful gift to a virgin named Mary. She could not find a room and was about to give birth. The Good Stones opened as only they could and formed a cave where the child was born.

“n101_w1150” by BioDivLibrary is marked with CC PDM 1.0. To view the terms, visit

The Savage King of the county heard the news and feared this child of God wished to become king in his place. He called all his soldiers and ordered them to kill all the little boys in the country. Poor Mary thought only to save her baby. She was lost and came round Vipucelle, which was not yet called Vipucelle. The beautiful forests of the Vosges frightened her and at the same time reassured her. What soldier would come looking for her here in the dense forest? During this period, the great empire did not even know this country existed. Thanking the Good Stones, she decided to live there.

Then she heard music in the distance. The music was nice, but she knew it often announced a lord on the move, soldiers threatening all sorts of things that frightened her. The music of the horns redoubled in intensity, getting closer and closer, accompanied by barking dogs. It was the hunting party of the Savage King, and she knew very well what he hunted. Her baby, Jesus.

Our Lady of Grace Garden Statue Blessed Virgin Mary Miraculous Medal

The poor woman ran as fast as she could, despite the hills and brush, but was not as fast as men on horses and dogs who constantly gained on her. The chase led her to the edge of Grandfontaine. The Cornerstones still speak of it today, especially the one called Marie Roche Bois, or the Rock of Mary of the Woods.

‘Sit down a moment,’ said the Good Stone of the Lake as it transformed itself into a small stone seat.

After she had rested, Mary escaped her pursuers, but the soldiers killed all the other baby boys in the area, some without having received Baptism.

The abbot, meaner than the soldiers of the Wild King, decided these babies could not go to Heaven. No Baptism, No Salvation! He did not care that innocent children would be punished, never to be in the presence of God. No exception of the law was possible as only Baptized children could go to heaven.

Of course, the High Stones would not tolerate such injustice and met to deliberate the issue at the Lake de la Maix. The Elder of the Stones decided to allow the innocent children to lie on top of them at night so they could receive the Baptism of the Angels, and the stones of the Lake de la Maix became a place of respite.

In the deep of the night, the Virgin Mother casts her gaze on the Lake de la Maix, and if she sees a child lying there in its deathly slumber, she kisses it on the forehead. The baby immediately opens its eyes and smiles at the lovely lady, and then the angels baptize it with water from the lake and carry its soul to heaven.”