Tuesday, 4 December 2012

German Tuesday: German Christmas Tradition - St Nikolaus

With Christmas just around the corner it's time to get ourselves in the mood for the festive season. So I'm going to share some German traditions with you every week - maybe you get some new ideas.

Have you been good last year? Then put a boot outside your front door.

Each 6th December German children celebrate St Nikolaus. Children polish their boots (dirty boots are unacceptable) and put one boot (it would be considered greedy to put out two boots) called Nikolausstiefel (Nikolaus boot) outside the front door on the night of 5th December. St Nikolaus fills the boot with small gifts and sweets overnight and checks up on the children if they were good during the last year. For naughty children, Nikolaus has a helper, Knecht Ruprecht (Farmhand Rupert or Servant Rupert). Instead of presents, Knecht Ruprecht puts a bunch of dry branches in bad children's shoes. Sometimes a St Nikolaus impersonator visits schools or homes and asks children about their behaviour - checking his golden book for their record - and hands out presents.

Instead of putting your  boot outside the door you can make your own as well though these remind me a bit more of Christmas stockings.
Nikolausstiefel with some decorations
St Nikolaus is usually pictured with a long white beard, red cloak and a bishop's mitre, a sack over his shoulder and a rod in his hand. Even though they have similar outfits Nikolaus is not to be confused with Santa Claus, who Germans call Weihnachtsmann or Father Christmas.

St Nikolaus giving presents to children.
By Richard Huber (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
So don't forget to put your boot outside on the evening of 5th December!!

[via wikipedia.org, thelocal.de]

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