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The Making of Santa Claus: The Pennsylvania German Belsnickle

Each phase of Roman conquest brought divergent cultural groups together. Under the control of Rome, various Germanic sectors twisted Roman traditions to fit their cultural needs. German gift givers contained elements of Rome but were uniquely Germanic. Representing the good and the bad, Peltz Nichols and Christ kindles, Pelsnickles, and Knecht Rupperts dispensed goodies and beatings with equal fervor. Their nocturnal visits to households in December were expected with a mixture of anticipation and dread. As Germanic people flowed into Pennsylvania, the customs merged to become the Belsnickle. Through interaction with other cultural groups a new character emerged; he is known throughout the United States as Santa Claus.  



Essential Questions:

How were conquered countries affected by Roman influence?
How have regional changes in Europe had profound social, political, and economic consequences throughout the world?
How have diversity and tradition played a role in the lives of the people in the United States and Canada?
How widespread was/is the influence of Roman culture?
How do Roman contributions reflect the society that produced them?
How can Roman experience be used to assess the current political, economics, and cultural situation of the United States?
How did Christianity change the Roman Empire and the world?

History Standards:   8.1 A,B,C,D    8.2.6 A,B,C,D   8.2.9 A,B,C,D   8.2.12 A,B,C,D 8.3.9 A,C   8.4.3 A,D   8.4.6 B,D   8.4.12 A,B,D  
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G   1.2.A   1.3.A,F   1.6.A,B,D,E

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