https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Santa, Is It You? No, It's Nicolaus

Hey guys,

Tomorrow is 6th Dezember. I didn't find much about that day in english speaking countries. Here in Germany children put their shoes right in front of the entrance door in the evening of 5th Dezember. Next morning they look outside and find (if they were well-behaved!) apples, oranges, diverse sorts of nuts, little Nicolauses of choclate and other sweets in their shoes/boots.

In earlier times a man in the clothes of Bishop Nicolaus (often with his helper Krampus/ Knecht Ruprecht depends on the region) visits the houses to ask if the child was a good child last year. Yes - it gets his gifts / no Krampus will take out his birch) Today this is not very common anymore but 'he' still visits a lot of kindergardens and schools around this day.

What about you, do you celebrate 'Saint Nicolaus' and how?

best regards, Angel

December 4, 2018

53 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jileha

This brings back memories... I was teaching a US class of 8th graders about the German St Nikolaus tradition. One student asked what would happen if they put their shoes outside the classroom door. “Why don’t you try and find out? But he had a very busy day in Germany and probably needs his rest.” Of course, nobody believed in St Nikolaus, but a few students put their shoes outside. We all had fun until they, at the end of the class, found some of their shoes missing! A very naughty student (please take note, Santa!) had used a bathroom break to hide the shoes, one of them miraculously found its way into the top of a tall tree... the kids started throwing balls into the tree in an effort to get the shoe to fall down. I tried to stop them, but too late - the predictable thing happened: Not only was a shoe stuck in the tree, but also a ball. I kinda repressed the memory how we finally got shoe and ball back. Thanks, Jo! I remember you fondly! (Lots of memorable moments with that girl! No irony involved!)

December 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

what a great story, I love it! :-))

December 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi,

your answers are really great and interesting. Thanks for that!

In the first place I wanted to write a post about the development of the legend of St. Nicolaus but first I wanted to know if it is familiar to you. Your answers show me that my first thought was right. For many Santa and Nicolaus are the same. So here is what I know (and found) about St. Nicolaus.

Known Facts about St. Nicolaus: There is not many we know about him. He was born between 280 and 286 in Patara (Turkey), became a Priest at 19 and later Bishop of Myra (also Turkey). He was captured during persecution of Christians and died on 6th Dez. between 345 and 351. Due to text analysis the St. Nicolaus is a fusion of the historical persons Bishop of Myra and Abbot Nikolaus of Sion.

The legend: It is passed down that the bishop was known as a man of markedly charitableness and kindliness to the poor. About 200 years after his death the kult of St. Nicolaus spread and Legends about him were told. They made Nicolaus during the centuries a gift bringer. First in Greece and Eastern Europe, later around the 10th century also in the West (Germany, France, England).

ancient customs. In earlier centuries childen made ships of paper or other materials (because of the legend he saved sailors distress) later the ships were replaced by shoes, boots, socks or plates for laying out presents.

the day: the tradition that St. Nicolaus brings gifts has its origin in a ritual called 'bishop game'. Children were appointed to a bishop/abbot for one day and were allowed to punish or reward other kids for their behavior. Thats the reason why the gift giving was not at christmas eve but on the 6th or 28th Dez.

Martin Luther: Protestants refused the veneration of the saints. So the focus was supposed to be on the birth of Jesus. During his life time in the 16th century the gift giving was changed to Christmas first in Prostestant areas then everywhere. The 'Christkind' / 'Father Christmas', 'Christ child' was "born".

His companions: Since the 16th century the 'Knecht Ruprecht' appeared on the scene as a kind of antagonist to educate children for more devoutness. Depending on the area he or they have different names. Knecht Ruprecht, Krampus, and in the Netherlands Zwarte Piet.

the traditions melt together and become blurred: Through the centuries the 'Christkind' became less important in Protestant areas and was more and more again replaced by the 'Weihnachtsmann' . Especially in the Netherland 'Sinterklaas' kept his meaning. Dutch emigrants brought this 'Sinterklaas' in the 17th century to America where he slowly transformed to 'Santa Claus'. The advertising campaign in 1931 of a big lemonade producer did the rest^^.

In the 19th century tradition of 'Santa Claus' /'Weihnachtsmann' came to Europe.

today: we have many traditions in many countries.

on 6th Dez St. Nicolaus

on 24th and 25th Dez. Christmas. Depending on the area/country the 'Christkind' 'Weihnachtsmann' 'Santa Claus' brings gifts

31th Dez. In East Slavic cultures brings Ded Moroz (Deda Mraz, Väterchen Frost) gifts to the children. He was originally the wizard of the winter and transformed to a mixure between Santa and old slavic traditions.

best regards, Angel

edit: I want a donkey for my St. Nicolaus, too! I love donkeys* cry

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pentaan

Hi Angel,

In the Netherlands, tonight (December, the fifth) is Sinterklaasavond and Pakjesavond (present night)
https://www.iamexpat.nl/read-and-discuss/lifestyle/articles/how-to-celebrate-sinterklaas-present-night

We even have special "Sinterklaasjournaals" for young children on television
https://www.npostart.nl/het-sinterklaasjournaal/VPWON_1262922

Sinterklaas rides a white horse
https://willemwever.kro-ncrv.nl/vraag_antwoord/de-maatschappij/waarom-het-paard-van-sinterklaas-wit

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RodicaLupea

Hello everyone,

Yes, 'Saint Nicolaus' is still celebrated in Romania too, when, mostly children, receive sweets and other gifts :)

Stay happy for these upcoming Holidays ;)

Have a great evening, Regards, Rodica

December 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Rodica,

greetings to Romania, I love to hear something from there. :-)) Do children in Romania also put their shoes outside?

best regards, Angel

December 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RodicaLupea

Hi Angel,

:) No, they don't ... they are just making sure (as their parents tell them) the shoes are clean... otherwise St. Nicolaus won't come. Or, if the kids misbehaved, he won't come either :)

Another tradition is the kids that were not good to get a twig instead sweets and gifts :)

Thank you.

Regards, Rodica

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert600143

Hello, Rodica! I am studying Romanian (as well as Spanish and German, like you). What customs are observed for Christmas in Romania? Where can I learn more?

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RodicaLupea

Hi Robert,

Great, we can communicate in Romanian if you want to, as it is my native language. I want to learn German better, even I'm at a level when it sounds much harder :) Spanish is a bit easier, being a Latin language, still it's harder and harder as I go further, especially related to grammar/verbs :)

Good luck learning the languages you wish :)

For Christmas there is the tradition related to "colidant" (caroling) especially in the country side, where kids go to carol to neighbors and relatives, and they receive money, cakes (in old times they used to get nuts, apples, as people were not rich etc).

You can find more info about Romania here: http://romaniatourism.com/did-you-know.html, and about the Christmas traditions here: https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/romania.shtml Enjoy reading.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

Sincerely, Rodica

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PhoenixRising18

Since my mom is German, I grew up putting my boots outside my door on the evening of the 5th. ^^ Today, each family member wakes up with their own personalized versions of treats. My sister loves ramen and Korean snacks, I get chocolate and useful things (last year I got a gerber knife ^^) and mom gets little spa knick knacks and candles. We may have put our own twist on it over the years. XD Despite my sister and I no longer being kids, we still do this for fun. :)

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buck72

Hi Angel,

Thank you for taking the time to create a post on Nicholas - I learn so much from these posts and what others add to the discussion. You've made quite a few posts on German culture, have you considered creating a Master Post of these various posts? I think it would be great to have a one place stop where your posts could be found. Thanks again :). Chris

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Chris,

you're welcome. Learning about cultures? Tell me about it, I've learned my St. Nicolaus has no donkey but others have, grr. Joking aside, I learn here a lot, too and I just want to give it back.

A Master Post is an interesting idea but I'm afraid not possible with this forum software. The only way would be to make it sticky but I can't do that.

Maybe I reanimate my forum and gather these kind of posts there if I have the time. But I'm not sure how to make these post accessible for duo users. We'll see.

best regards, Angel

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Chris,

I'm missing your answer about the master thread here, am I blind? Hm. Could you post a link to a master link as an example?

thanks and best regards, Angel

December 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buck72

Hi Angel,

Earlier I had answered but not heard from you, so I had deleted. Here is one example:

Patrick Osa created lessons for Luxembourgish and he has a link on his profile page showing the Master List:

https://www.duolingo.com/PatrickOsa

Not sure what you think....

As always, Chris

December 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Chris,

Ah, I see. A really good idea!! To be honest I'm not so sure if my posts are as relevant as the collection in your example. But maybe it's worth to give it a try. But it has to wait until tomorrow. Today I have to finish my 'Plätzchen' battle. :-)

best regards, Angel

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buck72

Hi Angel,

Here is one other example from Mari for Finnish lessons: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/10579104

Her lessons are on her profile page - I do not include the link to her profile page because the link seems to go elsewhere.

Had to look up Plätzchen. :)

As always,

Chris

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buck72

Some additional thoughts and ideas - maybe title it "Some German Traditions and Culture" ....

Your posts are highly educational....

:) Chris

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jileha

What is your favorite Plätzchen recipe?

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jileha

Haha, I just opened the linked page with the cookie recipe just to get this message: This site uses cookies.

Yeah, I know, that’t why I went there, duh! Cracked me up!

December 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Chris,

I think I will open such a master post. Maybe there are more post like mine which I can gather. Your title suggestion is pretty good. I think, I'll take it^^ so watch out for a post. And we can talk about it there. Here it get's to narrow :-))

December 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/.Sierra117

holiday joke: Three santas walk toward a bar. two walk into the bar, but the other one ducked. :D

December 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pinsch3

In some parts of Germany you also place some bread and suggar next to your shoes, it's for Nicolaus' donkey. And don't think, you get more sweets by putting the biggest shoe you can find or even a soup bowl next to the door - Nicolaus will probably only put half a Schokoladenkringel in! ;-)))

December 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Pinsch,

really? Wow! I ask about english habits and learn more about my own country. That's Duo! I never heard that you put bread and sugar outside and since when has Nicolaus a donkey??? In which area this is tradition? Please, tell me more about it.

best regards, Angel

December 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pinsch3

Hi Angel,

sorry, I didn't mean to distract from your actual seeking for English customs, it just came to mind that in my hometown somewhere in Germany (I would like to leave it at that for now) we always feed the donkey... As a matter of fact "der Graue" (the grey one) gets special suggar, in shape of four-leaved clovers. It works perfectly, just try it. You'll see, the next day it's gone... :-)

But now back to the English traditions. Ich bin gespannt!

Edit:
P.S.
What do you mean, since when does Nicolaus have a donkey...? Does he arrive at your place WITHOUT the donkey??? :-o
Then the poor thing either didn't get enough bread or maybe suffered a suggar shock... I have to think about that. Life changes here on DL...

Liebe Grüße

Pinsch

Second edit:
Of course it could also be the other way round, Nicolaus arrives at your house first and the later at mine. Maybe the donkey joines him later for some reason? I am CONFUSED...!! :-D

December 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Pinsch, you don't distract me at all! It's a nice tradition, I didn't know. I will research where this is habit. Of cource you shouldn't write here more details (I'll find out). Thanks again for telling.

liebe Grüße Angel

December 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RazuRose

St.nicholas or Santa always has reindeer here in Canada. To be fair reindeers probably fair better in the cold than a donkey could.

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Razu, we know here the reindeers from movies (Rudolph with the red nose). For us St. Nicolaus and Santa are not the same. They are different 'persons' coming to you at different times. best regards, Angel

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thwain

Here in die Ostschweiz, the beginning of the Christmas season is marked by a Chlausumzug (Usually on the weekend of the first day of Advent) where Samichlaus arrives with an Esel or two, and a group of Schmutzlis. These are the wood cutters who have dirty faces and dark hooded coats, and are rumoured to put naughty children in their sacks and carry them back into their woods. The children can go up to Samichlaus and perform a Sprechli where they recite a poem about the season or sing a song and are rewarded with a Lebkuchen. Samichlaus comes to the children's homes on the night of the 5th and leaves a small rough sack containing Erdnusse, Mandarine, ein Lebkuchen und Süssigkeits. When he visits the children personally, he is accompanied by a Schmutzli. Schmutzli's sack contains Lebkuchen, mandarin oranges and peanuts for the children, but is not used for taking children away.

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sharon554215

My husband played Schmutzli a few times as a teenager - the local football club did the Samichlaus thing to raise some money for charity - and he said that at a lot of the houses people would offer them a schnapps. Not great news for a 16 year old, but it helped keep out the cold anyway.

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Sharon,

thanks for sharing this story. It is really interesting how the traditions differ from area to area and country to country. So did I get it right that you in Scotland offer St. Nicolaus little gifts instead of getting sweets?

best regards, Angel

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sharon554215

Oh no - a wee dram is a measure of whisky.

December 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

wee dram -> wisky I noticed that and I love this tradition :-) I meant: children here put there boots out to GET something but you wrote only about the things you put outside. What do you get for it? best regards, Angel

December 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pinsch3

Schmutzli!!! What a hilarous word, absolutely love it...!!! :-D

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sharon554215

That explains the conversation that was taking place this morning outside the Grundschule about cleaning shoes! I must say, I think Santa gets a better deal in my native Scotland, where rather than shoes he can expect a biscuit, some milk and also if he's lucky a wee dram!

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thwain

My daughter left out a plate of Guetzli (cookies) for Samichlaus and sugar cubes for the Esel. No Schnaps unfortunately.

December 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sea-mist

I'm in Australia so we only have "Father Christmas" here. We put up a christmas tree and hang up christmas stockings. Some do outdoor xmas light displays in some places (my street does that).

We do not do the door to door xmas carolling in Australia but many people will go to a carols by candlelight session in their areas and go and sing carols in a park, on a beach or where ever one of these events are being held if they like carols in the lead up to xmas. They may also go to a xmas parade esp if they have children.

The night before xmas. some children leave out a glass of milk for santa and a carrot for the reindeer but I dont know whether to call that a tradition here though I know many Australian children who do this.

In Australia its a hot xmas so not all families do a traditional xmas turkey xmas lunch (but that is common too) but things like cold platters eg cold ham cut fresh off the bone, prawns, cold chicken and salads are also popular.

Many Australians for xmas choose to have a BBQ meal with family. This will consist of BBQed sausages, chops, steak etc had with salad.

We usually have xmas pudding with custard for dessert and often will have other desserts too eg Pavalova

We celebrate xmas day on the 25th Dec and open our presents then.

Most of us then take down our xmas decorations on the last day of Dec or before.

December 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Tania,

your christmas traditions are similar to ours. Since I heard as a child I try to imagine how it is to celebrate christmas in summer (I hate snow, cold and winter in general). But I just can't! BBQ for christmas, what a thought! For me everything about christmas time is cold and dark. A view years ago we had (total unusual!) 20° Celsius on christmas and it was .... AWESOME. So you can see me going green with envy.

best regards, Angel

December 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WolfAccada

Hi Angel. Here, where I live in the U.S., we celebrate Christmas on December 25. To celebrate we put up a Christmas tree in our family room and we hang up stockings. When we wake up the stockings are full of sweets und toys and under the Christmas tree there are gifts for our family. We exchange gifts with relatives and when the day is over we get a good night's sleep. -_- '-'

December 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Wolf,

we get our presents at christmas eve (24th), the 25th in in many families the day you have a great meal and enjoy the time you have together.

But St. Nicolaus on 6th Dez. is nothing you are familiar with?

best regards, Angel

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Klastiron

Watching and singing along to this song about Nikolaus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkvXugiij3U

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

yes, I know that song. Children are singing it here, too. :-)

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert600143

Guten Abend, Angel Rote! This is a great post and thread of comments. I have not heard of this tradion, nor about Krampus nor the donkey.

I'm not sure if I would want chocolate, oranges or nuts in my boots! And if I did leave my boots or shoes out on my porch, they would probably become filled with oak leaves.

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Robert,

In my area only children put out their shoes. I wouldn't try it either, we have cats in the neighbourhood. So I don't want to find out what would happen... :-) May I ask you from which country you are?

best regards, Angel

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert600143

I'm in the U.S. but have lived in Austria and Finland. And I did a study-tour of eastern Germany in 2005.

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

ah, thanks for telling. It must have been interesting. One day I would like to visit other countries, too. I've been on holiday in an view countries but that was always too short.

best regards, Angel

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WolfAccada

Hi angel. Sorry I have never heard of St.Nicolaus on dez 6th I wish I could help but I have never heard of it I hope you can find more. Best regards, wolf

December 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Wolf,

thanks for answering. You don't have to be sorry. I'm just curious if there is a tradition in the US or in GB. There you could almost say 'Santa Claus' is a close relative to St. Nicolaus, I wanted to know if the tradition of the good old Nick made it to the States or maybe even down under :-) And if not, I thought it would be a nice thing to intruduce Nicolaus to you because it is a popular and common tradition here in Germany and it could be interesting for you. Language is not only words and grammar, right? :-)

best regards, Angel

December 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WolfAccada

Hi angel. I want to thank you for starting this discussion when I read the comments I all ways learn some thing new! and I love learning things a bought germany because I have german in my D.N.A. with the best intenshons wolf.

December 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedAngel666

Hi Wolf,

you'r really welcome. I learn a lot, too that's why I start these discussions. Language and culture are two sides of one medal. The words, phrases and sentences we use are influenced by our culture and points of views. And sometimes vice versa. The internet and in particular this forum are a great chance to connect these two parts.

The best thing for me is I just don't learn about other countries and cultures but also about my own. :-)

best regards, Angel

December 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrancesVan12

I actually do! I am German, but I live in America. My family does the exact same, and my Dad even bought a Krampus stuffed animal! Our shoes always get filled with the same things aw well!

December 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WolfAccada

Hi angel. I think your right if English was only words and grammar I would not last a day : ) I like having cultures to learn about. Best regards wolf.

January 9, 2019
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