St. Nickolas Day? What?

  1. Have any of you heard of a St. Nickolas Day? It's suppose to be where little kids put shoes out? My daughter asked me why he never comes here. I, never hearing of it before she told me said "Oh, probably because I make you put your shoes away at noc." When is it, and what are you suppose to do?
    Thanks, Shygirl
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    About shygirl

    Joined: May '02; Posts: 1,897; Likes: 2


  3. by   Mkue
    Shygirl, I think it's mostly a Catholic tradition but other denominations may practice it also.

    I think it's Dec. 6th
    Last edit by mkue on Nov 12, '02
  4. by   NurseDennie
    St. Nicholas night is kind of a different way to celebrate the same thing as we do in the US. Are you in the US? St. Nick being who we call Father Christmas or Santa Claus.

    In some places Father Christmas comes at different times, and has different customs. Some places he likes to put the gifts into shoes, and some places into the stockings, and some places under the tree.

    It's all good!


  5. by   Mkue
    The Legend of St. Nicholas
    By Anise Hollingshead

    The Legend
    Strictly speaking, the tradition of St. Nicholas is not synonomous with the role of Santa Claus in the U.S.. As practiced in many European countries, the celebration of St. Nicholas is separate from the Christmas holidays, and occurs during the 2 weeks prior to December 6th, which is St. Nicholas's day. Sometimes St. Nicholas Day is the main holiday for gift giving, and not Christmas.

    In the Netherlands, legend has it that Sinterklaas (Dutch name for St. Nicholas) arrives in the Netherlands by way of steamboat from Spain 2 weeks before his traditional birthday, December 6th, along with his helper, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), who will help disperse the gifts and candy to all the good children. Sinterklaas, along with the zwarte piets, will go abroad at night and stride about the countryside wearing his red mantle, his mitre, and his golden crosier and sporting a long, white beard. Referring to his book that lists all the good and bad children, Sinterklaas will deliver presents to all the good children, but watch out if you've been bad! The bad children may be taken back to Spain with him. The Low Countries (Belgium and Luxemburg) have basically the same traditions surrounding St. Nicholas, but not to the extent of the Netherlands. Children in Luxemburg call him Kleeschen, and his helper is Ho˜seker (Black Peter). Belgian children know him as Sint Niklaas.

    In Germany, St. Nicholas is also known as Klaasbuur, Sunnercla, Burklaas, Bullerklaas, and Rauklas, and in eastern Germany, he is also known as Shaggy Goat, Ash Man and Rider and is more reflective of earlier pagan influences (Norse) that were blended in with the figure of St. Nicholas, when Christianity came to Germany. After the reformation, St. Nicholas's attire began to change, maybe as a reflection of the change from the Roman church, and he started to wear a red suit with fur. His dark-skinned helper is most often known as Knecht Ruprecht. Although he still visits many homes on Dec 5th/6th and leaves candy and gifts in the children's shoes, more recently St. Nicholas has begun showing up on Christmas Eve in Germany and is called Father Christmas.

    In France, he is now called Pere Noel (Father Christmas) and his helper is Pre Fouettard. Pere Noel only sometimes leaves presents on St. Nicholas day, more often now on Christmas. St. Nicholas day was celebrated formerly in Russia, but under Communism he was changed to Grandfather Frost and wore blue instead of red. In Sicily, he comes on Dec 13th and is called Santa Lucia.

    The History
    St. Nicholas was born in 271 AD and died around December 6, 342 or 343 AD near the Asia Minor (Turkey) town of Myra,. where he later became Bishop. He performed many good deeds and was a friend to the poor and helpless, and upon his death, myths soon sprang up about him all around the Mediterranean Sea. He was reputed to be able to calm the raging seas, rescue desperate sailors, help the poor and downtrodden, and save children. He was soon named as the patron saint of sailors, and when Myra was overthrown, his bones were transported by sailors to Bari, a port in Italy, where a tomb was built over the grave and became the center of honor for St. Nicholas. From here the legend spread on around to the Atlantic Coast of Europe and the North Sea to become a European holiday tradition regardless of religion.

    The Holiday Today
    In anticipation of St. Nicholas's nightly visits, children in several European countries put their shoes in front of the fire place. They sing traditional songs and provide a carrot or hay for the horse. At night Black Pete puts gifts and candy in the shoes.

    In the Netherlands, families celebrate St Nicholas's birthday the night before his feast day (December 6th). At one point during the evening, a loud knock will herald the arrival of Sinterklaas and at the same time candy may be thrown from upstairs; when the door is opened, a bag of gifts will be on the doorstep.

    For families with older children and adults, different twists are added to the gift giving and may include gag gifts or the drawing of gift ideas or names, and most times are accompanied by poems with a "personal touch" that poke fun at the recipient in a gentle way (or not, depending on the families ). Wrapping the presents up in odd packages and planting a trail of clues is also part of the general fun, and can sometimes be pretty tricky to get to, depending on the squeamishness of the recipients.

  6. by   shygirl
    WOW! Thanks Mkue. So it's December 6th right?
  7. by   Mkue
    I think that the majority of countries celebrate it on Dec. 6th, although Germany may (not sure) celebrate it on Dec. 5th.

    Like Dennie said, it's all Good !

    We do an adult "gag" exchange and that's all in good fun
  8. by   Jenny P
    As a child growing up in my Aunt and Uncles' house, we would put our shoes out in the front hall on Dec. 5th, and in the morning we would find an orange and some candy in our shoes the next morning if we were good. We were always told that bad children got lumps of coal, but I don't ever remember any of us getting any (although I think my younger sister and 1 brother may have; they were--- "energetic and creative", shall we say?):chuckle St. Nicholas eve always was the start of the Christmas season for us :we'd decorate the tree and house the night of Dec. 6th, and only after that could Christmas baking begin!

    The legend of St. Nicholas was based on 3 different saints named Nicholas (if I remember correctly); they were all very pious and holy and all acheived the rank of bishop (or higher) in the Catholic Church. There are at least 2 stories about St. Nicholas being exceedingly generous: one is that 3 daughters of a very poor man didn't have doweries and so were unable to marry, and their father was contemplating selling them into prostitution for food and clothing. So St. Nicholas came by at night and threw bags of gold pieces into their windows so that they could marry instead of being sold into sin. Another story has St. Nicholas going around his home city and giving money and alms to good people and children and praying for those that sinned.
  9. by   semstr
    The Dutch celebrate on the 5. and the Germans and Austrians on the 6.
    Ah these memories! It was so much fun as a child you know. Sometimes Sinterklaas even came to our place! Wow, we were quiet then! Had to sing a few songs, and he looked in this big, big book and he knew exactly about your schoolgrades and about you not being so nice to your sisters......... evrything.
    But when you promised him to better yourslef, you were allowed to put your shoe down in the evening.
    (my sister once "thought" she recognized Sinterklaas' shoes, as being from one of our uncles............ impossible of course, LOL)

    And then the sweets, no idea how you call them in English, but we call them pepernootjes, schuimpjes and so on...... I can taste them right now.
    So yes, it is very likeable, that Dutch immigrants brought this Sinterklaas- shoe-thing with them to the US.
    Take care and have fun, but remind your daughter she has to sing very loud, otherwise Sint won't hear her!!! LOL
  10. by   Mkue
    Renee, did you ever get a lump of coal in your shoe?? :chuckle
  11. by   semstr
    Never, I was always a nice girl, LOL
    No serious, my parents didn't believe in "black pedagogics" (sp)
  12. by   Mkue
    Originally posted by semstr
    Never, I was always a nice girl, LOL
    Well that's good, ..:chuckle