Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas - yet not - St. Nikolaus Day

There are a few funny traditions around Christmas in Germany. To be honest, most things are a bit crazy around that time of the year. Once Christmas season starts, there is a sheer endless stream of special Christmas sweets, biscuits, cakes, candies and traditional baked goods such as Stollen, Lebkuchen and Vanillekipferl. Well and then there are vast amounts of mulled wine, that bring more "merry" into the merry season.

Now right before Christmas there is another puzzling tradition - that of St. Nikolaus Day.
St. Nikolaus is like a Santa Clause, just that he comes earlier. Wait, what?
In order to get the goodies, Germans who celebrate St. Nikolaus will have to follow these steps:

1) Be a good girl/boy/transgender/furry/nyancat/...
2) Clean your boots. Ideally select the largest boots you own because large boot = more space
3) Place the cleaned boots in front of your door on the night of the 5th of December
4) Hope nobody steals said boots, therefore ideally place them in front of your living room door
5) Sleep until the morning of the 6th
6) Voila, if you have been good, there shall magically be gifts inside your boots

or 7) If you have been bad, be careful not to get hit

I tried this magical ordeal and indeed, Saint Nikolaus has not forgotten me and I got sweeties. Funnily enough, I think he doesn't deliver to abroad, I don't remember getting anything when I lived in the UK or Japan.

Upon looking around Wikipedia, for this post, I actually found out that some traditions of Santa Clause actually revert back to the Saint Nikolaus. Therefore, you can see St. Nikolaus as a pre-evolution Santa. He gives goodies to good kids, and punishes the bad. Apparently he was supposed to hit bad kids, a less-thankful job. So in some parts of Germany and Europe that job thus got done by someone else, the "Krampus", a crowlike dark figure that punishes kids. A bit like the Grinch, just a bit brutal. On parades, those Krampus will still go around scaring people, like it's Halloween. Maybe a Nightmare before Christmas took some inspiration from that.

No matter if you celebrate this year, or if you celebrate the Winter season at all, there are lots of interesting traditions in different countries in this time of the year. If you have some friends from abroad, it's always great to ask them what they do, and what traditions they have.

Thanks St. Nikokaus! You need to sort out your abroad deliveries though!

I wish you a lovely winter season! Don't get caught by any Krampusses.
Oh dear, that sounds really wrong.

Merry winter time!


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