Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Happy Birthday Saint Nicholas

It’s Saint Nicholas’s Birthday today, a day to celebrate with gift giving. Did you leave your shoes and boots outside for him to fill with treats?

To celebrate his birthday I am going to tell you a little about Saint Nicholas Day.

In The Netherlands, Belgium and Lower Rhineland (Germany) during late November, as tradition tells, Saint Nicholas travels down to the Netherlands in a steamboat. He is known to arrive in early December and to celebrate his birthday; children put their shoes in front of their chimneys and sing Sinterklass (Santa Klaus) songs on the eve of 5th December.  As a token gift of thanks to Saint Nicholas’s reindeer, the children place a carrot or hay for them to munch on. The next morning the children wake up to find a small token gift in their shoes from Saint Nicholas. All children receive a gift from Saint Nicholas. However, there is a myth that states that if a child has been naughty, the Zwarte Pieten (Santa Klaus’s helpers) takes the children and put’s them in their sacks and returns to Spain with Sinterklauss (where SinterKlauss is thought to be from). Hence the song lyrics- 

“He’s going to find out who’s been naughty or nice”.

In Germany, Nikolaus birthday is celebrated in a similar way. Children place a boot outside their front door on the eve of 5th December and like in The Netherlands, Belgium and Lower Rhineland, the boot is filled with token gifts. However naughty children are not taken away here. Instead a tree branch is placed inside the boot.

Thankfully, in our household, children don’t get taken and coal or twigs don’t get left. A wellington boot and a crochet bootie (toddler and baby) were left outside our front door step and this morning Ida and Sam have woken up to find a little chocolate reindeer inside. Another new tradition I am starting…I couldn’t resist!

Stay away Zwarte Pieten…my little ones have been good this year! 

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