Get into the Christmas Spirit by Celebrating Saint Nicholas Day

Categories: Family and Kids, General Travel Info

Saint Nicholas and Knecht Ruprecht
Saint Nicholas and Knecht Ruprecht

[ source: Wikipedia]

The 6th of December, Saint Nicholas Day, is a very special day for children in Germany. Many of them awake in the morning feeling a mixture of excitement and fear because they know sometime today they might meet Saint Nicholas, who knows if they have been good or bad all year and according to this either bring presents or punishes them. For this he has a mean looking assistant, called Knecht Ruprecht, with him, who does the dirty work.

The historic Saint Nicholas was a bishop in Turkey around 340AD and known as a merciful and charitable man. Still today many legends are told about him but the most popular in Germany is the one about a man and his three daughters, who were too poor to be able to get married. The desperate father was thinking about sending them out on the streets and to prevent this, Saint Nicholas threw three chunks of gold through their window, which magically landed in the socks of the girls. This lead to the tradition of children putting a boot outside their front door, which hopefully would be filled with sweets on the morning of the 6th of December.

On Saint Nicholas Day, especially in rural areas the local church community often organizes a big party, for which two men get dressed up as Saint Nicholas and Knecht Ruprecht and put on a show for all the excited children. They usually read out all the children’s good and bad deeds and then either hand out little presents or punish them. Of course, the punishment never actually takes place. Once the child vows to be good from now on, it is forgiven and also receives a present.

Saint Nicholas day is no official holiday in Germany but highly anticipated by children and a great opportunity to really get into the spirit of Christmas. If you currently are in Germany, join one of the many Saint Nicholas parties or visit a Christmas market, which usually has a resident Saint Nicholas. Should you be at home in the States and want to honor the tradition of Saint Nicholas Day, just organize your own little get—together — your children will be thrilled!

[ source: ]

About this Article

Kathrin Wagner

This travel guide has been written by Kathrin Wagner.

She grew up in a small town in Bavaria and then studied Media studies, Literature and History in Erlangen and Munich. As a student she already spent half a year in London and moved back there after graduation in 2006. She is still living in London, where she works in publishing.

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