Berks County Belsnickel


For the Pennsylvania Germans living in Berks County, the Belsnickel was a character who visited homes shortly before Christmas to determine if children had behaved throughout the year.  Clad in furs, he would pound on the door or window with a stick before entering a home.  While he was intimidating to children – especially because he always seemed to know who had misbehaved – he did distribute treats to the children whom he would visit.  This particular rendition of the Belsnickel, located in the collections of the Berks History Center, was drawn by Edward Smith (1897-1981) as an advertisement for Reading Brewery.

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