Saint Nick

Today is Nikolaus Day in Bavaria.

Good children are given gifts by Nikolaus, otherwise known as Saint Nicholas (or Saint Nick).

So if you didn’t leave your shoes outside the door last night they will not be full of sweeties…

Remember to try it next year!

And if you didn’t behave in the last twelve months you will be visited by a rather grim and scary figure called Knecht Ruprecht… I had a student once, a man in his fifties, who told us emotionally how, when he was a small boy, he was never visited by Nikolaus who handed out presents. He used to shake with fear every December 6th, because Knecht Ruprecht would at some stage turn up and put him in a sack! (I think he got over it!)

Here’s a picture of them both. Guess which one is the baddie!

Before the Reformation, Nikolaus gave Christmas gifts on this day, and was considered the benefactor of children. He was actually the Bishop of Myra several hundred years ago and is the patron saint of children. Nowadays just sweets and chocolate (often in the shape of Santa) are given by Nikolaus, and the “Christkind” puts the real Christmas gifts under the tree on December 24th. Santa Claus as we know him today evolved from this character and the legends surrounding him.