Monday, December 6, 2010

St Nicholas

Today is St Nicholas Day. This is not a festival often celebrated in Ireland. However, I lived in Germany as a child where it is and it became part of my childhood winters. So, it has passed on to my children.

The legend is that Bishop Nicholas heard of a large town where the people were starving. He asked his servants to bring him the fruits of their gardens and the fruits of their fields so that they might relieve the suffering of the people and especially the children. He brought the fruits and grain in a large boat to the town and delivered baskets to the doorsteps of the families. Now St Nicholas is in the heavens and every year on his birthday he travels from star to star on his horse where he meets the mother Mary. She is gathering threads of cold and silver to make a shift for the Christ Child. She says to St Nicholas to return to earth again and bring gifts for the children and tell them that the Christ child will be coming soon.

When I was a child in Germany I remember St Nicholas visiting our class around this time of year. It was so exciting and thrilling as he didn't come alone. He carried a book in which were written the names of all the children who had been good, this also had a list of those children who had not been quite so good and 'Knecht Ruprecht' (or Black Peter) who accompanied him dealt with those children; giving them a smacking with a bunch of twigs. If they had been really bad they might have been bundled into a sack and carried off. (I do have a, possibly inaccurate, memory of one of younger brothers getting a smack with the twigs (only pretend mind you)). St Nicholas always brought us delicious Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and nuts and apples. Oh, how I savour these remembered moments of my childhood.

On the night of the 5th of December we used to also put out our shoes for St Nicholas to fill in the night.... and this is what the guys did here... Cleaning their shoes for St Nicholas.
Rebe did him a beautiful drawing of him on his horse.

She did quite a few more drawings over the course of the day as her excitement rose (as you can see from the large roll of paper in her shoe).

They also left a carrot each for his horse.

When they awoke in the morning he had been and taken away what they had left for him replacing them with a small gift and a few sweeties.... oh the excitement!

He brought them these sweet little tea light holders to colour, which they did while I cooked the porridge and we had a very festive breakfast and no one got taken off in a sack :-)
Now Rebe is off to school. We had a whole extra week off because of the weather, but we were so glad because we got to spend all our time with Bubs while she was here. I am glad to be getting back to normal life though...lets hope it continues to thaw!
Did St Nicholas come to your house?
hugs x

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    so lovely to see this tradition in england.. I am from Germany and my little boy had a shoe filled ,too :)
    I can totally relate to your childhood memories, it was a truly magical time!
    (It still is alot like this in germany now)