Knecht Ruprecht is originally the servant of Saint Nicholas.
In England, the tradition of Saint Nicholas and his helper does not exist and hence there is no Knecht Ruprecht. It is therefore a proper name. As it has many different names depending on the country and region, in a figurative sense it could probably best be translated neutrally as "Servant Pete" or "Helper Pete".
In the oldest origin, "Sinterklaas", i.e. "Saint Nicholas", is celebrated in Holland, and from there also in Belgium, Luxembourg and parts of Germany, but also in Austria and Switzerland and other countries and regions. It is the Dutch name for a popular figure from the first century, based on the historical Nicholas of Myra, whose day of death is 6 December. That's why he brings presents to the children (who have been good) on 6 December. All children love him. In Luxembourg, we call him "Kleeschen" (little Clause). He wears his bishop's clothes, a red smoked coat and a crozier.
His companion and helper in Holland is traditionally the "Zwarte Piet", or Black Peter. The name Knecht Ruprecht goes back to figures from the Alpine foothills or from Thuringia (Ruprechtsburg Castle near Zella-Mehlis). In Luxembourg we call him "Houseker" and I have no idea what that means. There are many other regional names for him. While St. Nicholas acts as a messenger of heaven, the other stands as a representative of hell or "tamed devil" who takes on the threatening and punishing role. He brings the children (who have been naughty) rods and scolds them. All children are afraid of him. In Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg he traditionally has a black skin colour and is in a way the personification of the "bad black man" whom nobody likes and everyone is afraid of.
Originally, he was simply Sinterklaas' helper. According to tradition, Sinterklaas rides over the roofs on a white horse and comes with his helper Zwarte Piet through the chimney into the houses to bring presents to the children living there. The next morning, the children find sweets or a small present in their shoe.
Originally, therefore, the figure of "Swarte Piet" was not necessarily meant to be racist. According to tradition, the servant of St. Nicholas was a Maure, i.e. a Mauritanian, originated in the Occident and the two traditionally arrived together by boat from Spain before St. Nicholas Day, at least in Holland.
It was above all the (Catholic) Church with its black pedagogy that didn't just want to give children presents, but also contrasted good with evil and threatened: "only if you've been good will you get a present, otherwise you'll get the rod from Knecht Ruprecht, or he'll put you in the sack and take you away!" I can still vividly remember being terrified of the "Houseker" and my younger brother never stopped crying because of him when Santa came. Above all, as a child I was puzzled and amazed at how Father Christmas knew so well all my sins and misdemeanours of the whole year, which he read out loud of a big book and for each one I was then given a rod by the "Houseker", i.e. the Luxembourg servant Ruprecht.
In most countries, people now reject and discard this racist and educational component and have quietly abolished "Knecht Ruprecht". Nowadays, St. Nicholas in Belgium and Luxembourg usually comes with a pair of angels and focuses more on the good. The Dutch, however, find it very difficult to abolish their "Swarte Piet" and there is now a real culture war raging among the Dutch, which is unfortunately being instrumentalised by right-wing political circles. So from a rather subliminal racist suggestion, the issue has now become extremely polarised in Holland.
Incidentally, the Dutch had also taken St. Nicholas to New Amsterdam (i.e. New York).There, the slim Bishop Nicholas soon became Santa Clause, very popular all over North America and obese due to overfeeding with biscuits and hot milk. He was also postponed until Christmas and shunted off to the North Pole. Too heavy to be carried by a white horse, he was put on a sleigh and returned to Europe via England, where he now competes with Father Christmas on Christmas Day.
We children never had a problem with that. On St. Nicholas Day we were given toys and on Christmas we were given clothes or new shoes or something like that, so we were given two presents in any case.
In most southern and Latin American countries, children are traditionally given presents on Epiphany, i.e. by the Three Kings.