One of my favorite Christmas traditions: Nikolaus

In Germany, the night between the 5th and 6th December is not any normal night. The kids prepare for it by cleaning and polishing their winter boots. When that is done, the boots are placed outside the front door and the kids go to bed. Usually they are having trouble sleeping. They are excited. I always tried to stay awake the whole night ““ but never could. When the morning finally arrived, they rush outside to get their boots ““ which now are filled with sweets and small presents.

The above describe is the basic Nikolaus tradition. There are some regional variations to the details. In some areas, Nikolaus has a companion, whose job it is to punish the bad kids (usually by hitting them with twigs). Where I come from, it always only was Nikolaus on his own. But if you had been a bad kid the past year, you only would get some pieces of coal instead of sweets and presents.

The tradition is based on Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra. In his lifetime, he was known for secret gift-giving: he left gold coins in the shoes of the poor.

And opposite to the popular myth that Santa Claus only was invented by Coca Cola for marketing reasons, Saint Nicholas is the real reason for us “believing” in Santa today. Even the socks on the chimney can be traced back to myths about him.

What about you? Do you have any special Christmas traditions that you always look forward to as a kid? Or maybe you still do?

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By inessita

I'm German but after high school I moved to Denmark for studying. A few years ago I finished my Master's in Business Communication and now I'm working as a marketing coordinator.
I'm a news addict. I spent an endless amount of time on reading the news from all over the world. And this is what I'll be writing about mostly.

6 replies on “One of my favorite Christmas traditions: Nikolaus”

And I just remembered a Danish thind as well: In December friends, colleagues, etc. usually do Christmas dinners. And part of that is the “Pakkeleg”. Everybody had to bring a little present (just around $5) and you play a game of dice for the present. In the beginning you can take one every time you get a 6. Then there are a few rounds, where people can steal each other presents, when they get a 6. And only when you unwrap them, you know, if you got crap or something nice.

The Mystery Gift. We have one present every year that is not labeled ‘for’ anyone and everyone has to try to guess what it is, and it can be anything. Some years you get a clue, some years you just have to squish and shake and guess. Past Mystery Gifts have been; new hand towels, ugly ties, a new king-size pillow, and a yodeling pickle.

I am Chinese American. My Chinese mom has that bad habit of cheating and breaking rules, not following deadlines. As a kid it meant we could stay up until midnight and open our presents. However as an adult I have deemed this practice “not kosher”. Geez Mom we aren’t Norwegians.

In Germany we open our presents on the evening of the 24th as well. My family usually goes to church at around 6:30pm and then, when we get home, the room with the candle lit tree and the presents is opened for the first time (in my family Santa also brings the Christmas tree). After the presents it’s dinner. As we’re usually always getting at least one book each, people then disappear into each their corner and read.

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