Monday, December 05, 2011

Saint Nicholas

St. Nicholas, Christkindl Market, Kitchener 2011
St. Nicholas visited Kitchener's Christkindl Market this past weekend. When I asked to take his picture, he quickly found his wife and they posed together. St. Nicholas day is December 6th and many children in Europe put their shoes outside the door in the days leading up to tonight in hopes of receiving a special treat. Naughty children could expect a lump of coal or a tree branch. (The St. Nicholas above has several branches in his hand.)

I looked at my footwear and decided there was nothing suitable for storing things I would later eat. Then I cleaned one Croc with a disinfectant wipe and checked to see what might fit in it. My size nine shoe held (with difficulty) one clementine, a small package of pistachios and one chocolate bar. No wonder St. Nicholas has such a small bag. The real St. Nicholas gained a reputation for gift-giving by putting coins in other people's shoes. Perhaps coins are a better idea than food or small toys.

I shared the picture of this card from Grandma's Christmas scrapbook a couple of years ago. In 1907 St. Nicholas was evolving into Santa Claus in North America with a more colourful costume and bigger presents. He certainly is very fit as he appears to be walking to deliver gifts rather than riding through the sky in a sleigh.

It is interesting to learn about Christmas traditions in other countries. St. Nicholas and related (caucasian) benevolent gift givers are not celebrated everywhere in the world. I like this quote from Dick Gregory, a black American comedian and social activist.

"I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew
no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark."

To those who believe...

HaPpY Saint Nicholas Day!


  1. Perhaps it would be good to return to the shoe tradition as we'd not have to buy so much junk. I love the St. Nick and his wife photo.

  2. We have quite a conglomeration of Christmas myths with which to confuse our children.

  3. In Holland they celebrate Dec 6th. My Dad often told stories when he was a young lad and getting little gifts from St. Nick. penny candy, cookies in the shoe. His last Christmas with us before he passed away, my great niece (11 yrs) thought it would be nice to give him a Dutch tradition christmas that he had when he was young. She organized the day with treats, posters and special love letters to her Opa. St. Nick showed up with gifts for him. My dad was touched by her kindness. It was a very special day indeed...a great memory for her and for all of us.

  4. St. Nicholas Day is rarely even mentioned here in the south. When we moved to WI, my children came home quite distressed because they got nothing from St. Nicholas like all their friends did.

    I do love your St. Nicholas. And the Croc was a great shoe to leave for him. Can't imagine it will be warm enough to wear them for a while.

  5. Interesting to read this post because I just learned about Saint Nicholas day today from my Polish co-worker.


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