On 6. December we celebrate St. Nicholas. It has become accepted that children in Germany the night before their Put shoes in front of the door, to the next morning Sweets and small gifts to find in it. But where does this custom come from? Who was the Saint Nicholas really and where did he come from? What was he famous for and what was his merit?
Two figures merged to form the myth of St. Nicholas: on the one hand, the saint of children and on the other hand, the saint of children Bishop Nicholas of Pinora (6. Jh.) and on the other hand Bishop Nicholas of Myra (3.-4. Jh.). The latter was born around 280 in Patara (today Demre) near Antalya. When he was 19 years old, his uncle made him the Priest consecrated. After that St. Nicholas Abbot of the monastery of Sion and later Bishop of Myra.
Life, activity and legends
About the life and work of St. Nicholas is not much handed down. What is certain is that he was the one who received from his parents the Legacy to the needy passed on. Nicholas of Myra was known mainly for many other good deeds, Charity and helpfulness. He was a great Friend of children and Helpers of people in distress. That is why today he is one of the most popular saints in the Christian world. Also there are many legends in which his work is central.
Three golden apples
Usually St. Nicholas is depicted with three golden apples in his hand. This is based on a story: once upon a time there lived a man who had three daughters. As the family was very poor, the father was forced to offer his daughters as prostitutes in the marketplace. Young Nicholas heard this, and to help the girls he crept up to their window at night and cast three gold pieces, as big as apples, in their room. The daughters did not have to be enslaved, received a rich dowry from their father, married and lived from now on in the Luck.
Calming the sea storm
Once sailors sailed over the sea. Suddenly they got into distress at sea and had to fear for their lives. But then they prayed to St. Nicholas for help. After that a male figure appeared who managed to navigate the ship and bring it safely to the port of Myra. When the men in the church there wanted to thank God, they recognized in the bishop of Myra St. Nicholas. That is why this is considered Patron saint of sailors. At the same time St. Nicholas is, among other things Patron saint of merchants and Tailor, lawyers and Prison guard, Prisoners, thieves and prostitutes, Pharmacist, Butcher and Bakers. St. Nicholas is also patron saint of children and Old, pupils and Students, altar boys, Lovers and Giving birth.
Celebration of St. Nicholas
Depending on the country, Saint Nicholas is celebrated differently. In Germany, children, and more and more often also adults, on the night of 6. December their shoes at the front door. At night, in fact, St. Nicholas – dressed in a red bishop’s robe – on a sledges on the way and brings gifts. Sometimes he also visits children in kindergartens and schools. Then there is St. Nicholas celebration. A guest dressed as Santa Claus opens a book and reads the good and bad deeds of the children of the past year. After that he distributes Gifts.
In Austria colorful and loud St. Nicholas processions organizes. There are also Krampus parades: Krampus is the opposite of St. Nicholas. He punished children who were not good, of course only in a symbolic way. The costumes are of great importance: they are often made by hand. The Klausjagen in the Switzerland in turn comes from the pagan custom, according to which in the past people moved loudly through the villages to evil spirits to chase away.
Did you know that children in preschool and elementary schools in Luxembourg have a day off from school on St. Nicholas Day?
And that the saint in many Slavic countries as Patron of the family is celebrated?
In some countries, such as the Netherlands or in Belgium Santa Claus celebration is even more important than Christmas.
And there are countries where St. Nicholas does not put presents in the boots, but under the pillows of the children.