How Santa Claus kept an evil butcher from turning children into sausage

December 27, 2008 | By | 5 Replies More

The Santa Claus we “know” has been tamed down from the earlier versions.  Our Santa is not associated with anything unpleasant.  Not true of the earlier version of Santa, St. Nicholas   Consider this medieval story about St. Nicholas from a play by Henri Gheon called “The Sausage Maker’s Interlude.”  A butcher makes a sausage-making-machine, but runs out of pigs while using the machine at a fair. The devil

convinces the butcher to find a quick substitute to convert into sausage. He argues that the wheels of machinery must never stop but must ever grind onward. Such, after all, is progress! Even the butcher’s wife is at risk. However, when three juicy young boys happen by, the butcher quickly interests them in the inner workings of the machine. He urges them to check out the groaning and grinding cavernous mouth of the funnel and then stuffs them in, when, who should happen by, in the “Nick of time,” but the good bishop of this community, just back from the council of Nicea. He feels that he has lost control of his flock in his absence, and has a dread intuition of what is going on here at the fair. He asks the butcher to explain this machine. But the converted boys are already emerging as sausages out the other end. On a holy hunch, Nicholas grabs the wheels of progress and turns them in the opposite direction. The string of sausages is retracted and out of the feed tub emerge three bewildered little boys who think that they have just had a very bad dream.

In other versions of the story, the boys were about to be killed by pickling them in a vat, but they were saved by St. Nicholas.  I recently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where I saw a sculpture illustrating this pickling version of the Medieval story of the heroic St. Nicholas.

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Category: Culture, Entertainment, Whimsy

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. That sounds like a Roald Dahl story. Actually, I think he did write a similar short story, something with meat and people…

  2. I think Roald Dahl wrote a similar short story about people ending as sausages. But as is typical for him they didn't get rescued.

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    Yall should read the 1865 ancestor to the Katzenjammer Kids: Max and Moritz. A similar story appears there, but it was a Baker and the Kids were spiritual Bart Simpsons.

    Here is the complete Max und Moritz scanned from a 1925 reprint, with English translations in a pop-up.

    I was raised on these stories, in case you wondered.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Speaking of people eating children, I just ran across this wacky photo shop, Chive.com. I wonder if the baby's mom was nearby when they posed the top photo. http://thechive.com/2008/12/sunday-brunch-crazy-f

  5. Hip O'Krumpus says:

    I saw this small sculpture of St. Nicholas in a Library book documentation of encyclopedic facts and based on the fact that he is buried in Thomastown near Kilkenny where I had visited the library. I have this theory based on the depiction that St. Nic might have been a little person. To use the politically correct term of reference for his dwarfism. Maybe his little helpers was based on this fact. Perhaps it is too presumptuous or not investigated enough on my part but I find that it is perhaps worth exhuming his remains or follow up on history books or manuscripts.It is a tad cheeky but just had to post the wiki page where my unconstructed web page ought be

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas

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