Nikolaus (St. Nicholas Day): A beloved holiday tradition in Germany
On December 6th, Germans celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas, also known as Nikolaustag. This honors Saint Nicholas of Myra, who died on this day in the fourth century after Christ. This beloved holiday is not as important as Christmas, but nevertheless a time for children to receive gifts, sweets, and special treats.
Who was Saint Nicholas?
Saint Nicholas of Myra was an an early Christian bishop of Greek descent from the city of Myra in Asia Minor. He is also known as Nicholas of Bari or Nicholas the Wonderworker, because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession. Der heilige St. Nikolaus, as he is called in Germany, lived from 15 March 270 till 6 December 343.
Traditions on Nikolaustag in Germany
Here’s a look at some of the most popular traditions associated with St. Nicholas Day in Germany.
Boots filled with treats and sweets
One of the most iconic traditions of St. Nicholas Day in Germany is the practice of leaving out a boot or shoe to be filled with treats by St. Nicholas. Children will place their boots by the front door or fireplace the night before St. Nicholas Day, hoping to find them filled with sweets, chocolates, and small toys the next morning. It’s a fun and exciting way for children to celebrate the holiday, and a great way for parents to get into the spirit as well.
Presents from St. Nicholas
In addition to the treats left in their boots, children may also receive small presents from St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas Day. These gifts are often wrapped in decorative paper and may include items like books, puzzles, or other small toys. It’s a fun way for children to get a little extra something special on this festive holiday.
In addition to the above traditions, there are many other ways that Germans celebrate St. Nicholas Day. Some families may attend special church services, while others may participate in parades or other festive events. It’s a time for coming together with loved ones and enjoying the holiday season. Regionally, some bakeries traditionally offer special pastries that are only available on St. Nicholas Day. The best known are probably the Weckmänner or Stutenkerle, which are made of sweet leavened dough.
Conclusion: St. Nicholas Day
Overall, St. Nicholas Day is a beloved holiday tradition in Germany, and one that is eagerly anticipated by children and adults alike. Whether it’s leaving out a boot for St. Nicholas to fill, receiving small presents, indulging in sweets and treats, or participating in other festive activities, there are many ways to celebrate this special day. I try to live the tradition here in the US as well. That’s why my kids always get a little something.