Sankt Nikolaus on Dec 6th in Germany

Sankt Nikolaus is on Saturday, 6th December. Traditionally children place their shoes before the door on the eve of St. Nikolaus and await gifts such as chocolates, nuts and mandarines if they have been good all year.

When we were children, we used to go to my aunt’s house where about 25 or more cousins gathered in anticipation of Sankt Nikolaus and Knecht Ruprecht. We girls usually had nothing to fear and were rewarded with goodies such as chocolate and other edibles.

Often the boys would be anxious and sometimes one of them would get a beating by Knecht Ruprecht, Nikolaus’ right hand, so to speak. Ruprecht used birch rods or some other twigs to carry out the punishment. More than once a reminder of fear was left in form of  a puddle on the wooden living room floor. These were the glorious sixties in Germany!!

We carry on with this tradition by asking our children to put their boots in front of our apartment door this evening. We tell them Sankt Nikolaus will drop off the presents during the night and has no time to come in. My children have never met Knecht Ruprecht either.

I am off now to do my shopping to stuff my family’s boots.

Der Nikolaustag

Nikolaus im StiefelThe Nikolaustag is celebrated each year on 6th December. Nikolaus, accompanied by his assistant Knecht Ruprecht, brings small presents to children who have hung up their stockings the night before. He also visits schools and kindergartens where he usually gives the children sweets.

Although other figures in the English-speaking world such as Santa Claus are also derived from the same Saint Nicholas, in Germany he is often portrayed as a bishop and wears a mitre. The chocolate figures associated with the day are, however, usually in the red and white associated with the Santa Claus figure.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

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