Who is Saint Nicholas?
For a long period of time throughout Austria and parts of Germany, most notably Bavaria, St. Nicholas was the central figure in the Christmas celebrations. However, he was not Santa Claus, because he arrived earlier — on December 6th. His customary, less pleasant escort was known by several nicknames: "Belsnickle," "Niglo," "Pelznickel," and others. Santa Claus, often known as Father Christmas, is a relatively new institution. Due to the fact that the Germans (and the Dutch) introduced many of their rituals to America directly or indirectly, we must first examine Europe in order to comprehend the modern American and global Christmas celebrations.
What Is St. Nicholas Day?
St. Nicholas Day, or the Feast of St. Nicholas, is celebrated on December 6 and commemorates the third-century Catholic saint who inspired modern-day Santa Claus. Unlike Christmas, St. Nicholas Day is also established in a giving custom, owing to the saint's renowned generosity.
According to legend, St. Nicholas sold all he possessed and donated the proceeds to the impoverished. He devoted his whole life to helping and caring for those who were ill or in need. The practice of getting presents from St. Nicholas dates all the way back to Dutch youngsters who would leave their shoes outside the night before the festival in the expectation of obtaining a treat from Nicholas.
Historically, excellent boys and girls have left presents of shoes, stockings, or tiny toys and candies. Children who were misbehaving received roots, twigs, or even coal.
The custom reached the New World with the establishment of New Amsterdam, which is today known as New York.
Where Did St Nick Day Originate?
St. Nicholas was virtually forgotten in Protestant Europe during the Reformation, while his legacy was preserved in Holland as Sinterklaas. On St. Nicholas' feast day, he is said to arrive on horseback dressed in a bishop's red robe and miter, accompanied by Black Peter (Zwarte Piet), variously described as a freed slave or a Moor, to assist him in distributing sweets and presents to good children and lumps of coal, potatoes, or switches to bad children. The Dutch brought the custom to New Amsterdam (now New York City) in the American colonies, where the English-speaking majority converted him into Santa Claus. His narrative of a kind old man was combined with old Nordic folktales about a magician who punished misbehaving children and rewarded good ones with goodies. In the United States, the resultant image of Santa Claus solidified in the nineteenth century, and he has been the patron of the gift-giving celebration of Christmas ever since. In the United Kingdom, he was mostly supplanted by Father Christmas.
Where Is St. Nicholas Day Celebrated?
Numerous countries worldwide commemorate and celebrate St. Nicholas Day. St. Nicholas Day is observed in several tiny towns and villages throughout Russia and Greece as the patron saint of both nations. St. Nicholas Day is particularly popular in the coastal regions of northern Europe, particularly in parts of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, due to its origins.
The St. Nicholas Center keeps track of St. Nicholas Day customs around the world. "Customs from forty-two nations demonstrate how he is the primary gift-giver in some areas," they write, "while he is essentially a religious figure in others."
How Is St. Nicholas Day Celebrated?
According to the website German Culture, children in Germany "tidy their rooms, clean their toys, and shoes and boots should be shined and laid out by the entrance or on a ledge." Additionally, they send him notes and food for his white horse (or donkey). The boots are then filled with sweets, nuts, and little presents the next morning.
The custom continues in France's Alsace, Lorraine, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais areas, which are located close to the France-Germany border. Additionally, children here layout shoes for St. Nicholas and are rewarded with chocolates and other unique presents. On an actual day, a little donkey is said to carry baskets of cookies and sweets through the towns.
However, St. Nicholas Day is more venerated in the Netherlands than anywhere else. The festivities officially begin on the second Saturday of November, when St. Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, embarks from his home in Madrid, Spain, on his way to a city or town in the Netherlands. Dutch youngsters are expected to keep an eye out for Sinterklaas and his assistants, dubbed Pieters. According to tradition, they will arrive in a harbor via steamboat. Local church bells ring in jubilation as they approach. Sinterklaas and his colleagues will spend the next few weeks visiting youngsters in locations like schools and hospitals to evaluate if they have been nice – if they have, they may receive sweets in their shoes. On December 5, St. Nicholas Eve, families exchange presents.
Fun Ways to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day
While this festival is an excellent opportunity to discuss the season of giving and the actual meaning of Christmas with your children, there are several more St. Nicholas Day traditions you may participate in with your family. Therefore, have a look at these suggestions on how to commemorate St. Nick Day this year...
Commemorate the Generous Spirit
By exchanging thoughtful presents with others, you may teach your children the attitude of giving. Small toys, candies, handcrafted presents and cards, stickers, and art materials are all examples of St. Nicholas Day gift ideas.
You may do this anonymously in the spirit of St. Nicholas by putting together gift bags for the less fortunate. Blessing bags, which you may assemble on your own, are an excellent method to assist Kansas City's homeless population.
Commemorate the Shoe Custom
Discuss the history of Saint Nicholas with your children (you may locate books at your local library), and then let them leave their shoes out on December 5th.
This is perhaps the most popular St. Nicholas Day custom, so it's a family affair! Children should lay their shoes and a note to Jesus on the window sill or front doorstep. It can include pleas for gifts to be carried to heaven, or, as I would suggest, a prayer for others.
While your children are sleeping, fill their shoes with sweets and other tiny items using the alphabet. It's certain to be a great tradition to discover on December 6th.
Recipes to Celebrate
Make your way through a collection of holiday-themed dishes from across the world. The St. Nicholas Center's website features an enormous collection of delicious Christmas dishes that your family may try this season.
Put on a Play to Commemorate
You may learn a lot about St. Nicholas Day and teach a lot about it by producing a play with your family.
From one-person plays for your children to huge group alternatives for the entire family to participate in, the St. Nicholas Center provides a plethora of fantastic options for putting on a family play at home.
Wear St Nicholas Day T-shirts with your family
On St Nicholas Day you can join your family in T-shirts with Nicholas motifs to show the connection between family members
What To Wear on St Nicholas Day?
T-shirt with cute design of St Nicholas
Hoodie St Nicholas Day is suitable for all occasions
Tank Top with funny design
Where to buy good products related to St Nicholas Day?
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