Country: Alsace Region, Switzerland, Bavaria and Austria
When: Epiphany or Twelfth Night, January 6
The folklore surrounding Perchta is first recorded in the year 1200. The name itself, meaning a corruption of the Old High German ‘Giberahta’, the word for Epiphany; would first be mentioned in 1468. By this time a cult had grown around her and her mythology, being condemned by the church in Bavaria in the Thesaurus pauperum (1468).
When winter had gripped the land, and the feast of epiphany took place, there was a cultural taboo in the regions of her association against spinning fabrics during the feast, and also maintaining a clean domestic environment. The holiday pressure was on to finish spinning flax, to have enough to weave after the feasting, and clean the home by the date of January 6th.
To those who had worked hard all year, and remembered to leave her dedication in the form of a porridge named ‘Perchtenmilch’, she would leave a small silver coin. To those who had not finished spinning, had not left her offering, and whose house was in an unclean state, the occupiers would be met by an old crone dressed in rags, with a beaked nose made of iron.
The meeting however would be brief as they would then be disemboweled by the displeased old woman, earning her other name of “the Belly-Slitter”. Your empty insides would then be filled with rocks, straw and pebbles.
Image is orginal Inspired by the Christmas mythology and comes on a wooden slice and hung with ribbon, the text of the myth as above is also displayed on the back of the ornament.
The Folklore of Christmas. Frau Perchta
Size various: Approximately 4" Height x 4" Width