Hi my lovely readers!
I wish you all a pleasant and festive 2nd Advent today and a happy St Nicholas Day!
St Nicholas Day is a very important day for children in Germany during the Christmas season. It is celebrated every year on the 6th of December.
It is a day when children get rewarded for being nice or punished with a rod or stick for being naughty. Let me explain how this tradition works exactly and what it is about.
MY CHILDHOOD MEMORY
Every year on the night before St Nicholas Day, I would sit down and clean my shoes. This was when I was a child. In my case, my parents made me clean their shoes as well. Clever them. Once the shoes were clean, I would pick one pair, one that could hold lots of things, and place it next or in front of our house door.
I would go to bed and St Nicholas would come over night and place something in my shoes. He would come through the keyhole as he has special powers, or to be more realistic would find a way to enter the house through a window or chimney.
Children that are well behaved, polite, clean their rooms all the time and so on would be rewarded with little goodies and presents. I used to get chocolate treats, a CD and when I was older pretty tea lights. The idea is to give something small and not too expensive. I guess it can be compared to stocking fillers.
However, if you are a naughty child who is always causing trouble and misbehaving, you would get the rod, which can be used for whipping. Here I would like to note that this is a symbol and of course kids are not being whipped with it anymore 😉
One time I got the rod when I was around five years old and I was so sad and upset, I cried for around 30 min or so, that my parents felt bad for me. St Nicholas came later that day again and brought me some goodies. I had to promise though that I would be a good girl going forward haha.
Alright, so I would clean the shoes, go to bed full of anticipation and wake up the next morning really excited to see what St Nicholas brought. I would run to my shoes first thing in the morning to see what was inside. And at school everyone would talk about, share and compare what they got from St Nicholas.
Today, the idea is that good children get rewarded, while naughty children get basically nothing or the rod. The rod is a symbol of punishment for misbehaviour, but children still have a chance to get presents for Christmas if they do good and start behaving.
ORIGINS OF THE TRADITION
St Nicholas originates from Turkey. He was appointed bishop of Myra, a small town in Turkey, where he helped the less fortunate. He distributed his wealth, which he inherited from his parents to the poor. The 6th December is the anniversary of death of St Nicholas.
The legend and story around St Nicholas and the tradition of the shoes goes that St Nicholas came across a poor man who had three daughters, who wanted to get married.
He did not have enough money to afford their weddings, which is why he wanted to send them into prostitution (remember this was a long, long time ago).
St Nicholas learned of his idea and threw some gold coins into the chimney of the girls, which landed in their socks and shoes that were hanging there for drying. As a result of his kindness, he saved the girls of their fate.
What are your Christmas traditions?