Tag Archives: Sankt Nikolaus

Celebrating Saint Nicholas Day. How did you behave all year?

Today is Saint Nicholas Day (Sankt Nikolaus). How did you behave all year? He will know!

Perhaps you were good and could start out your day already with a full boot full of treats. Or you are still waiting until tonight when Saint Nicholas himself comes by and pays you a visit.

Many German families celebrate this beloved tradition the way that they have their children put out a boot overnight from the 5th to the 6th of December so that Saint Nicholas could fill it with oranges, nuts, chocolates, and even small toys. This would, of course, happen only if the child had behaved well all year. Surprisingly, they always had!

In some families, like mine, Saint Nicholas would actually come by in the evening of the 6th of December. Every year it was a big affair. We had friends with their children over to await the honored guest. O my, was I nervous as a young child!

Around 6 pm we would hear little bells and heavy footsteps crunching through the snow towards our patio door looking out onto the black pitch garden. And there he suddenly was! Standing in front of our patio glass door knocking with his white-gloved hand. Saint Nicholas!

All of us kids would huddle together, while my dad would open the door and beckon the honored guest in. Every year we were awed just the same!

Saint Nicholas and his Golden Book of Truth

Saint Nicholas entered our living room. Dressed in a bishop’s robe with a red cape and a Mitra he had a heavy burlap sacket over one shoulder and a huge golden book clasped underneath his other arm that was also holding a golden staff.  After we all had greeted him he took a quick glance at the half circle of children asking one of us to come forward to hold his precious crozier. We were all excitedly terrified and intimidated at what to expect next.

He sighed and slowly leafed through his golden book when suddenly stopping at one page, he announced a name and looked at us children with questioning eyes. The one, who had been named, timidly stepped forward and Saint Nicholas looked at him or her with a friendly look and exclaimed in a deep voice: “Now, let’s see what my little angels have written about you over the past year.”

He started reading out of his big golden book all, that he or she had achieved over the year, and what the parents were so proud of. Saint Nicholas would approve with little nods here and there or even utter some words of admiration.

With gleaming faces, we listened to his every word wishing just that the end would not be too embarrassing since everyone else was listening. We were aware that most likely, not everything had been perfect over the year and knew that Saint Nicholas would close by mentioning something we could thrive for and do better in the following year.

Every child had finally been addressed and received a little burlap sacket filled with treats, that Saint Nicholas retrieved from his big one. But this wasn’t the end. No!

Now it was time for entertainment! The parents would ask Saint Nicholas to take a seat and enjoy a glass of red wine while he would listen to our, the children’s presentations. Relieved, we children moved to this more relaxed part and recited our poems, played holiday music on our flutes and the piano.

After a short social time with Saint Nicholas, we finally accompanied him back out to the garden where he vanished into the dark, leaving us with the noise of the crunching footsteps in the snow and the jingling of bells in the air.

Exhilarated we ran back inside the house to indulge in unpacking our presents at last.

 

Image: Title image ©CaliforniaGermans , Pixabay.com


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Knecht Rupprecht

knechtruprechtKnecht Rupprecht

(Ein Gedicht von Theodor Storm)
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Von drauß vom Walde komm’ ich her;
Ich muß euch sagen, es weihnachtet sehr!
Allüberall auf den Tannenspitzen
Sah ich goldene Lichtlein sitzen;
Und droben aus dem Himmelstor
Sah mit großen Augen das Christkind hervor,
Und wie ich so strolcht’ durch den finstern Tann,
Da rief’s mich mit heller Stimme an:
“Knecht Ruprecht”, rief es, “alter Gesell,
Hebe die Beine und spute dich schnell!
Die Kerzen fangen zu brennen an,
Das Himmelstor ist aufgetan,
Alt’ und Junge sollen nun
Von der Jagd des Lebens ruhn;
Und morgen flieg’ ich hinab zur Erden,
Denn es soll wieder Weihnachten werden!”
Ich sprach: “O lieber Herre Christ,
Meine Reise fast zu Ende ist;
Ich soll nur noch in diese Stadt,
Wo’s eitel gute Kinder hat.” –
“Hast denn das Säcklein auch bei dir?”
Ich sprach: “Das Säcklein, das ist hier;
Denn Äpfel, Nuß und Mandelkern
Essen fromme Kinder gern.” –
“Hast denn die Rute auch bei dir?”
Ich sprach: “Die Rute, die ist hier;
Doch für die Kinder nur, die schlechten,
Die trifft sie auf den Teil, den rechten.”
Christkindlein sprach: “So ist es recht;
So geh mit Gott, mein treuer Knecht!”
Von drauß vom Walde komm’ ich her;
Ich muß euch sagen, es weihnachtet sehr!
Nun sprecht, wie ich’s hierinnen find’!
Sind’s gute Kind, sind’s böse Kind?

(Theodor Storm 1817-1888, deutscher Schriftsteller)

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December 6th is Saint Nicholas Day – 6. Dezember und Nikolausabend ist da!

German Children Will Soon Awake To Find A Special Gift From St. Nicholaus In Their Shoes

Lasst uns froh und munter sein, und uns recht von Herzen freun (…) bald ist Nikolaus Abend da!”

“Let us be happy and cheerful, and rejoice from our heart (…) Nicholas Eve is almost here!” This song is known by almost everyone in Germany, but have you ever thought about who Saint Nicholaus really was?

On the 6th of December we celebrate Saint Nicholas, or the feast of St. Nicholaus, who was a Greek bishop that lived in the fourth century in Asia Minor.  Known as St. Nicholaus or Bishop of Myra, now Demre, on the Turkish Mediterranean coast.  Only a few fragments of his life have been preserved, most of which refer to his the selfless deeds he performed  throughout his life. Nicholaus fed the hungry and many children benefited from his generosity and compassion, so he is also referred to as the protector of children.

After his death on December 6, he was made a saint. This date became the day that St. Nicholaus continues to visit children, bringing the good ones treats.

In Germany, children clean their shoes on the eve of December 6th and place them outside of their bedroom door. When they get up the next morning, Nicholas has filled the shoes, of good girls and boys, with fruit, nuts and cookies. Over time this has changed a bit and St. Nicholas brings more chocolate and small toys.

In many religious communities, St. Nicholaus arrives at church with his helper Knecht Ruprecht who gives naughty children lumps of coal, stones or a switch instead of goodies. Many of the children participate in the celebration by putting on small plays, singing songs and reciting poems.

These legends have been passed down through many generations and are meant to teach children how to live generous lives.  Do you remember waking up as a child on the morning of December 6th to find a surprise awaiting you in your shoe?  Share your most memorable St. Nicholaus by leaving a comment.

Photo by tin.G via Flickr
Article Source: GermanPulse

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