he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake

I’m not talking about Santa, but man oh man, I wish I was. I’m talking about the guy that makes getting coal in your stocking look like a happy meal… the one, the only… Le Père Fouettard.

Don’t know who he is? Pas de problème because I’m about to tell you. I learned about him three years ago right before my first French Christmas and just reading about him was enough to scare the bejeezus out of me. Since the countdown to Christmas is winding down, I thought now would be a good time to retell the tale of the man that shall not be named and give all of you fair warning… you’ve got six days to clean up your acts and be good for goodness sake! Originally posted 15th December 2009

. . . . . . . . . .

OK, this is weird. I was doing a little reading about French Christmas traditions. Figure since I’m here, might as well find out the happenings of the holiday, French style. And there is no use asking The Boyfriend, he is useless at relaying this kind of information.

So, in France, Santa Clause is Père Noël, nothing strange there, but Père Noël has a partner, and it’s not Rudolph. It’s an evil man named…dun dun dun…. Le Père Fouettard.


(I think the “dun dun dun” adds a nice dash of scary, don’t you?).

According to my sources (the ever reliable Wikipedia),  Le Père Fouettard was a guy who kidnapped three little boys, robbed them, killed them, and then chopped them up and put them in a stew.

Holy Reindeer Droppings! How the Fudge does this guy end up having anything to do with Sugar Plums and Mistletoe? Apparently, Jolly Ol’ St. Nick some how discovered the crime (maybe when Le Père Fouettard’s name was flashing in red lights all over the naughty list) and magically resurrected the children (nice tie in to J.C. there with the resurrection – it is his birthday after all). Le Père Fouettard ends up feeling bad and becomes St. Nick’s partner and goes around with him on Christmas.

But get this, Le Père Fouettard doesn’t become all full of holiday cheer like Ebeneezer Scrooge did, he’s still sinister, so instead of handing out pressies, he punishes all the naughty children instead. Usually with a good old fashioned flogging.

Nothing says Christmas like a flogging.

Safe to say, I’m usually a well behaved girl, but after reading about you know who (don’t want to type his name again in case it has some sort of Beetlejuice effect) I’m going to be on my best behavior this holiday season.

Don’t want you know who coming to town.

19 responses to “he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake”

  1. Ha ha, I love your theory on how Saint Nick discovered the crime! Eek, I think I've been good this year, depends if general laziness and drinking too much wine is on PF's list of naughtiness or not.


  2. Wow that's…terrifying and really creepy! I can only imagine the nightmares and stress I would have had as a kid around Christmas time if I grew up with those stories.


  3. haha! i love it! very grimm's fairy tales!


  4. Never heard of this one, interesting! 🙂 Danica


  5. A flogging? Oh yes please!I've been ever so good this year. 😉


  6. Ummm I promise I've been a very good girl this year!!!


  7. Le Père is the creepiest of all – nothing would achieve well behaved children more than scaring them shitless by speaking of him! Though, he was well above the 50 Shades of Grey kick, so apparently he's a trendsetter?


  8. Good lord the French are a cheerful bunch. What a lovely, Christmas-y story. I think I'll go cry a little in my coffee.


  9. Seriously?! There is a Père Fouettard who flogs you?! Leave it to the French to dream up of a gremlin partner for Mr. Klaus.Milsters(http://www.littlepiecesoflight.com/)


  10. Oh that's totally taken me back to some creepy musical performance in my early teens. I'm sure it was connected to this story (because really, how many Christmas related tales have little boys chopped up into stew?!) I can't remember how the choir master found it, but it was weird!


  11. All those kids crying on Santa's lap will now be soothed with the phrase “it could be worse” followed by a printed copy of this blog post. Happy Christmas Sara!


  12. He has ALWAYS creeped me out. My french roots of the family (Diard) on my grandmama's side – she used to always scare the hell out of me with that guy. YIKES.


  13. Yikes, is right! If you like David Sedaris his “6-8 Black Men” is about scary Dutch Christmas traditions – perhaps not 100% authentic, it's David Sedaris of course. . Listen at the 3min. mark… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYdpte1W0vk


  14. Le Pere is wayyyy creeper. How have we in America never caught wind of this? Better be good, Sara Lou!!


  15. I always thought it a terrible tradition and told my boys very early on that it was a load of bollocks and they should not listen to the lies.Father Christmas, on the other hand, was a different matter. :)I don't think education by frightening a child is a very healthy approach, but hey, French kids are all perfect (so we're told in endless books by French-mummy-wannabes), so what do I know?! 🙂


  16. Haha… wow this is so interesting and funny and scary. Thanks for sharing. Joyeux Noel!XO,CatherineFEST (food, style, travel)


  17. Père Fouettard is SO creepy! I remember hearing about him from my French host family and thinking, “so he's like a sadistic pedophile or something?” (internal dialogue, of course) I love French fairy tales – no qualms about frightening children at all.


  18. So interesting! We have something similar in Germany too! The guy is called Knecht Ruprecht!


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