Friday, December 4, 2009

Nikolaus

I decided to blog today because I wanted to tell you about the German "Nikolaus". It's a catholic tradition that has deep roots in many parts of Europe. In Germany, everybody celebrates it, no matter their denomination - at least everybody who has a kid, but many couples do so too (why give up the nice traditions when you grow up?). On the evening of December 5th, you take out your boots and clean them as best as you can. Then place them in front of your door and go to sleep. In the night, Santa Claus will come! Just in case you wonder: he looks very much like Father Christmas, though sometimes, you see him all dressed in white like a bishop with that funny bishop cap and a golden cross on it.

The next morning, when you wake up, your boots will be filled with marzipan, a chocolate Santa Claus, nuts, mandarins, maybe a book or a CD (try to take the biggest boots you have, so even an Avalon Hardcover will fit!) and many other nice things - if you were a good kid, that is. If you were bad throughout the year, Santa Claus, or rather his nasty friend Knecht Rupprecht, who is dressed in black, will bring you a sort of stick with branches that your parents can use to educate you better. I remember my mother (sorry, I meant to say Knecht Rupprecht of course) once gave one to me and my sister. It seems we had been impossible that year (I have no recollection of that). To soften the blow, she decorated the stick with sweets. My sister and I were devastated and my mother never, ever dared to give us that stick again.

So clean up your boots tomorrow and place them in front of your door - but just to be on the safe side, tell the others in your house that you plan to adopt the German traditions, to make sure that Nikolaus comes to you too!

8 comments:

Amy DeTrempe said...

I love this tradition. We never practiced it growing up, but a friend of mine has and she was talking about preparing for it for her sons yesterday.

Sandy Cody said...

Lovely tradition, Beate. Thanks for sharing. To tell the truth, I can think of a couple of people I think Knecht Rupprecht should visit (but I suppose that's ungenerous - who knows how many think he should visit me!)

Heather said...

in that case I think I'll be buffing up my wellies!

mulligangirl said...

This is a tradition I celebrated as a child and I'm happy to have carried over to my own family. I'm surprised how many people have never heard of it, so I make it a point to send my daughter to school with a little write up to share every year. I'm so happy to see it in a blog!

Fran McNabb said...

We spent the first two years of our marriage in Germany "way" back in the 70's. I was fascinated with the Christmas tradition. Nikolaus visited our village and came into one of our apartments to greet the children and adults. He gave all the adults switches!

Beate Boeker said...

I had to lauch when I read your comment, Sandy. I never thought about sending Knecht Rupprecht somewhere . . . hilarious thought! We could make it into a new novel.
I'll give a bit of Christmas chocolate to my co-worker at work on Monday, as I guess I would scare her to death if I came to her house on Sunday morning to fill her boots.
Today, I celebrated the occasion by buying black boots that were just a bit too expensive, but they make me feel sexy, and so I decided they were worth it!
Heather, I keep my fingers crossed that the Nikolaus will see your shiny wellies . . . and Amy, it's never too late to start with a new tradition!

Elisabeth Rose said...

When we lived in Holland I remember our Dutch neighbours telling us about this tradition. I think the marzipan fruit etc is given then. Is that right, Beate?

Beate Boeker said...

Fran, what are switches?? I only know the term as some sort of electrical appliance, but I've never heard of Nikolaus being the kind of guy who distributes technical stuff? Am intrigued!

Lis, Santa Klaas is the Dutch version for Nikolaus, and in the Netherlands it's more important than Christmas, because that's when you get the BIG gifts. In Germany, it's vice versa. And yes, that's when you have marzipan and mandarins etc.

Rebecca, does your family come from Germany, then, since you celebrate it as well?

I found a lovely bone china mug in my new boots this morning, which I will take to work, so it'll make me happy whenever I look at it.

I saw on Facebook that many of you have snow - I do SO envy you! Here, it's dismal as always around this time. We only get snow in January in the North of Germany (if we're lucky).

BTW, sorry for that typo in my first reply! Must pay more attention!