"St Nikolaus Day, December 6" Germany Local Custom Tip by Kathrin_E

Germany Local Customs: 316 reviews and 355 photos

  Nikolaus or Weihnachtsmann?
by Kathrin_E
  • Nikolaus or Weihnachtsmann? - Germany
      Nikolaus or Weihnachtsmann?
    by Kathrin_E
  • St Nikolaus statue (Jakobi church Goslar) - Germany
      St Nikolaus statue (Jakobi church Goslar)
    by Kathrin_E

December 6 is the holiday of St Nikolaus, Bishop of Myra. His holiday became a day of little gifts and sweets for kids (and big kids) which is also popular in several other European countries, e. g. Sinterklaas in the Netherlands.

The legend tells how the saint witnessed the prayers of three girls from a very poor family whose father saw no other way out of misery than selling his daughters to a brothel. By night Nikolaus threw three balls of pure gold into their window and thus saved the girls from this cruel fate. Nikolaus statues in churches often show him holding three golden balls in his hand (photo 2).

Only good kids receive sweets on Nikolaus Day, however. Naughty kids used to get nothing but a birch rod. (Today’s parents are not that strict any more.) In the evening before St Nikolaus Day kids set up one of their shoes, polished and shining please, outside their door for Nikolaus to fill. In the Alps region, they traditionally put an empty plate on their window sill instead.

Nikolaus was a bishop, so originally he wore a bishop’s ornate. The figure was mingled with that of Father Christmas, they look alike now. “Santa Claus” is actually St. Nikolaus/Nicolas.

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  • Updated Dec 31, 2008
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