CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
12 Days of German Christmas: Day 6
St. Nikolas was a Greek man who lived in modern-day Turkey. Through the years, the stories of this man who was known for giving gifts to children (especially coins in their shoes) have morphed into a version of today’s Santa Claus.
In Germany, St. Nikolas has his own special day. It is celebrated on December 6 and for some, this day marks the start of the German Christmas season. On the night of December 5th, German children will place their shoes outside of the house or their bedroom. During the night St. Nikolas will check on the children, and like his American cousin, check to see if they have been naughty or nice.
If the children have been nice, St. Nickolas leaves candy, small gifts and often chocolate coins wrapped in shiny foil in their Nikolaus-Stiefel (Nikolas boot).
Now if you have been naughty this year, you better hope you don’t live in Bavaria! In Bavaria, St. Nikolas is accompanied by Krampus. While St. Nikolas is filling shoes with candy, Krampus (who looks somewhere between a deranged mad man and your worse nightmare) fill shoes with coal or a stick. Perhaps Krampus also takes this time to use the stick or ruten, to beat the naughty ones. Yikes!
There are other traditional figures that bring Christmas gifts. Depending on the area of Germany and the families religious beliefs the Christkindl (Christ-Child) or Weihnachtsmann will traditionally deliver gifts on Christmas Eve (Heiliger Abend).
Tomorrow we’ll turn our attention to a different saint who gets some attention this time of the year: Silvester (not the cat).
Note: Click on top picture for credit.