The Nikolausspiel or Nikolospiel is a custom in the Austrian, Bavarian and South Tyrolean Alps , which is celebrated during Advent . The focus of such an event is the figure of St. Nicholas and that of Krampus . As a folk drama , the Nikolausspiel is one of the traditional performances in various places.
As part of this event, a group performs several scenes that finally culminate with the arrival of St. Nicholas. There are often parades through the places before the game, and these are always accompanied by a crowd of Krampusses .
While the term "Krampus game" exists for some similar events, the traditionally held events of this type refer to themselves as St. Nicholas games, since the focus is on the figure of St. Nicholas.
The Nikolausspiel probably originated from the retreat among families with children, which was practiced in the Middle Ages. Here a bishop or representative of the bishop visited the families to teach the children about good living and, if necessary, to reward them for following the rules. It was not until the end of the 13th century that Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, became the title figure of this custom.
At the latest in the 16th century, in the course of the Counter Reformation , the St. Nicholas custom, as it is still practiced today, should have arisen. As a pedagogical and catechetical educator, Nikolaus finally prevailed and has been proven in writing. These games are clearly distinguished from the so-called “Miracle Games”, which mainly revolved around the life and work of St. Nicholas of Myra. The Nikolausspiel, as it is carried out today, no longer has the life of Bishop Nikolaus as its content, but shows in revue-like scenes excerpts from everyday life, sometimes even with a satirical touch.
The typical sequence of a Santa Claus game
The Nikolausspiel is a performance with individual, hardly coherent scenes, which are all marked by a concrete appearance and departure of the characters. A certain sequence of scenes can be recognized in most of the St.
- Appearances of the announcers, the hunter and the roommater,
- The bishop's retreat
- Everyman scene, which is mostly kept as a beggar man scene,
- Lucifer sermon or sermons of the devil ,
- Intermediate appearances and cutscenes,
- Driving the Krampus.
The heralds are the "Schab", as well as individuals or groups who perform their scenes before the appearance of St. Nicholas. Some of these scenes are probably from other festivals, but were integrated into the Nikolausspiel. The Schab themselves are mute figures clad in straw, who announce the move acoustically by cracking their "goassl", the whip . In addition to the Schab, only the hunter himself is an announcer, he informs the audience about the imminent arrival of St. Nicholas.
Then the bishop Nicholas comes in, teaches the audience and, if necessary, hands out gifts to the children. The Everyman scene follows the sermon of Nicholas . In contrast to the eponymous piece, however, it is not a rich, but a poor person who is confronted with sinners before his death. Then the Krampuses appear for the first time, led by Lucifer , who is also shown in Krampus form. Intermediate scenes may follow and the Krampus will be let loose on the audience.
After the "hellish beings" were allowed to let off steam for a while, they are called back and the Santa Claus game ends. Either the event is over for good, or the group just moves on to the next venue, where the game procedure is repeated.
The Nikolausspiel as a folk play
The custom of the Nikolausspiel is a popular drama. Folk drama refers to plays that are presented to a particular social class for the same, without naming the author (s ). This folk play is perceived as a custom and tradition and is played with a non-illusionary theatrical presentation.
The non-illusionary theatrical presentation means the masking used in the Nikolausspiel. The Krampus hide their faces behind the mostly carved “larvae”, the Schab cannot be seen under their straw robes, and the eponymous Nicholas is difficult to identify because of the beard that covers a large part of his face. By putting on the mask, the role change from everyday citizen to the depicted figure is so clearly illustrated that there is no doubt about the playfulness of this figure. This is non-illusory-theatrical.
As in the Commedia dell'arte , the actors slip into their roles when they put on their masks - and take them off again together with the masks. And just like in this one, the viewers are also co-producers of the “Nikolausspiel” event. It is they who are addressed directly by Nicholas in his sermon. It is they who are beaten by the Krampusses, and it is they who are then redeemed and allowed to return to their normal life.
- About Nikolausspiele
- Hans shoe store: The St. Nicholas games of the Alpine region. Innsbruck, Wagner University Press, 1984.
- Leopold Kretzenbacher: Lively folk drama in Styria, in: Anton Dörrer u. a. (Ed.): Austrian Folk Culture - Research on Folklore - Volume 6. Vienna, Austrian Federal Publishing House for Education, Science and Art, 1955.
- Katharina Krenn and Wolfgang Otte: 'Whoever wants to see it, knows it anyway' - The Tauplitzer Nikolospiel on December 5th, in: Eva Kreissl (ed.): Die Macht der Maske. Weitra, publication PN ° 1, Provincial Library, 2007.
- About (folk) drama
- Gerda Baumbach: Actors - Historical Anthropology of Actors - Volume 1 - Acting Styles. Köthen, Leipzig University Press, 2012.
- Karl Konrad Polheim: About the essential equality of medieval drama and modern folk drama, in: Ulrich Mehler and Anton H. Touber (eds.): Festschrift for Hansjürgen Linke for his 65th birthday. Amsterdam, Atlanta Publishing House, 1994.
- Hans Schuhladen: Die Nikolausspiele des Alpenraums, Innsbruck, Universitätsverlag Wagner, 1984, p. 215 f.
- Hans Schuhladen: Die Nikolausspiele des Alpenraums, pp. 230–233.
- Hans Schuhladen: Die Nikolausspiele des Alpenraums, p. 28 f.
- Katharina Krenn and Wolfgang Otte: 'Whoever wants to see, knows it eh' - The Tauplitzer Nikolospiel on December 5th, in: Eva Kreissl (Ed.): Die Macht der Maske, Weitra, publication PN ° 1 Bibliothek der Provinz, 2007, Pp. 137-140.
- Katharina Krenn and Wolfgang Otte: 'Whoever wants to see it, knows it anyway', pp. 139–149.
- Karl Konrad Polheim: About the equality of character between medieval drama and modern folk drama, in: Ulrich Mehler and Anton H. Touber (eds.): Festschrift for Hansjürgen Linke on his 65th birthday, Amsterdam, Atlanta-Verlag, 1994, p. 266.
- Gerda Baumbach: Actors - Historical Anthropology of Actors - Volume 1 - Acting Styles , Köthen, Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2012, p. 251, p. 257.