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Nikolaus I Still Believe!

Saint Nicolaus Day has always been one of my favourite, favourite holidays! This means that I have books worth of memories that come with it, maybe not books, but I could do a several posts on the subject…

IMG_3889 Wow! What happened here? Outside of our apartment my tiny boots were overflowing with chocolates, mandarines, almonds and nuts, there were some fir branches to decorate the treasures. Saint Nikolaus had filled my polished boots, and he had been very generous (my mother admitted years later that he had help from some of the neighbours). I was never too naughty, never was I punished by the symbolic reception of a whip (like coals in stockings). It was truly magic, and this magic lasted all the way through my childhood until I left home for my studies. This year it will be time to let the magic come back in. But before the tiny blue boots of my daughter will have to be polished, because Nikolaus does not like dirty boots…

🎅🏽

St Nicolaus KrakowIn my kindergarten the older kids did no longer believe in Nikolaus, they made sure that everyone knew he did not exist. I did not want them to win, for me there was such a magic around the Nikolaus that I did not want to vanish. I must say that I have always felt an underlining magic, I guess we can say that I have a certain spirituality. When Nikolaus Day came, I understood their rejection of this man, my belief was a bit shaken. But I knew there had been a helper needed. The thing was the Nikolaus who came, he was missing an index finger, and the neighbour from across the street was missing a finger too… (The missing finger was blamed on him putting it into his nose as a child). For a few years it was the fingerless Nikolaus who came and treated us with sweets.
Then one year, everything was different. I was now part of the older kids, and pretended to believe for the younger ones, as I remembered how dear this belief had been to me. And suddenly I stopped pretending and started believing again. We were inside, when a magical sound came through the air, and it was the real Nikolaus who came to greet us at the door. I remember I checked for a missing finger, but he had nice hands!

👞

This was not the only time that I received confirmation that Nikolaus must exist. I was at a friend’s house who was having a Nikolaus party, and well you can guess his stepdad to be turned up dressed as Nikolaus. Did the adults really think we wouldn’t see past their mascaraed? He was giving each one of us a little something from his bag, when suddenly there was a loud noise from the hallway. We all looked up, and after a moment looked through the door to see what was up. Nikolaus, the real one, must have come by, and decided to not intrude our little party, just he was a bit clumsy and tipped over the cloak hanger…

❄️

In a way, I cannot say that I do not believe in Nikolaus. Maybe it’s due to all of these events. Maybe it’s due to my love of magic. Or it’s because a real Nikolaus excited in the past… On wikipedia you can find out about the legends behind him. Traditionally in the Netherlands Christmas is celebrated on Saint Nikolaus day. And in Germany the Christmas presents are traditionally brought by the Christkind (Christchild).
I once read a very interesting article explaining why Santa Claus, who is Nikolaus comes for Christmas. For that we probably have the political cartoonist Tomas Nast to blame, he liked the idea of comforting people with the Dutch tradition, someone bringing presents on Christmas. You might know that he also gets credit for the Republican Elephant.

🕯

St Nicolaus KrakowBefore I leave you today, I hope that you have been enjoying the Advent Calendar so far. If you have not read the guest posts by Gulara, Melanie and Evelyne, then I do invite you to do do so! And keep your eyes open, there are more amazing contributions coming in the next 18 days!
The photos of the Santas/Saint Nikolauses were taken in Krakow, Poland on the 6th of December 2009. S and I were suddenly surprised by an army of motorcyclists in festive clothing, I guess that almost everyone with a motorcycle showed up that day!

Do you celebrate Nikolaus? What are your Nikolaus traditions and memories?


© Solveig Werner 2015. All rights reserved.

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22 thoughts on “Advent Calendar Day 6: Nikolaus I Still Believe!

  1. It is interesting how the story has changed over time. The real man was a bishop in Asia Minor and died in AD 343. In 1087 his body was stolen and taken to Italy where it remains in a church in Bari on the Adriatic Coast. Or so the story goes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I still want to believe also. It is easier when there are little ones in the house, I think. I am enjoying your series a great deal! I’m sorry that I couldn’t contribute.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My little one does not believe yet, she’ll be 22 months old tomorrow. But she was so pleased to find sweets in her shoes. Well who isn’t?
      I believe in the beauty and magic that comes with this season.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Can I just say that the picture from Poland is epic! That is definitely a reflection of the Christmas spirit. I love it! ^.^

    Additionally, I think it’s awesome how St. Nikolaus Tag(I can’t help but say it in German after so many years in German class :p) is such a key element of the Christmas season. Americans only think about Christmas. Some Christians think about Advent, but no one really has much else to celebrate during this holiday season.

    This little piece of tradition is beautiful and I think it’s great that so many people would dress up as St. Nikolaus to bring joy and wonder to children. Never stop believing. The real magic is that of the Christmas spirit and the joy it brings to people. ^.^

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was pleasantly surprised as I had no idea that they had such a tradition.
      Here is a link to the original Santa picture of 1881 https://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/harp/1225_santa.html
      And to an article explaining the whole story a bit more https://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/harp/1225.html
      The magic and spirit in the air around Christmas is what I love so much too, maybe that’s why I rarely have wishes of the material sort.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Um… Santa kind of looks like a creep. :p Or perhaps just a vagabond. Hee hee!
        I think that wishes of the material sort tend to dwindle with age because we are able to buy things for ourselves and no longer want as much. We realize that it’s about the spirit more than the items. I imagine this becomes all too apparent when one gets married and has children, other people with whom to share the spirit. ^.^

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  4. This is so hard when we stop believing. My third daughter, an early reader, found out very soon through a book and was so sad. But like you, for the sake of her younger brother, she pretended Santa existed and ended up ‘believing’ for a couple of extra years. Parents have various takes on that. Should we ‘lie’ or should we tell the truth? There is so much magic in the air around Christmas time that I prefer a little bit of ‘lies’ as long as we answer our kids’ questions when they get ready for the truth. Saint Nicolas is not one of our family’s traditions but it sounds fun too. Enjoy the rest of the month and thanks again for this series that tell of so many memories of the season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why should it by lying? He is there in the child’s imagination and even if they know he does not exist they still try to believe. I don’t feel like it is a lie, it is a story like a fairy tale 🙂
      You are welcome! I am so happy that so many great bloggers are contributing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Quand l’une de mes filles à cesse de croire elle était en colère et pensait que les adultes lui avaient menti. Cela n’a pas duré mais je me suis dit qu’elle avait un point. Maintenant qu’elle est grande elle trouve cette tradition adorable pour les enfants.
        😊🎅🎄

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah je vois. Depuis que j’ai écrit ceci apropos de Saint Nicolas je me pose des questions à propos de la croyance en générale, à voir si je vais écrire sur le sujet après noël…

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  5. I really loved this post, Solveig even though I’m reading it in that peaceful gap between Christmas and New Year.
    I just to clarify that it is a German tradition to put your shoe out to be filled with sweets and which day you do that please?
    I have German heritage on my Mum’s side and my Grandfather was a Lutheran Pastor. We celebrated each week of Advent by lighting another candle on a German-style Advent wreath made by a German lady at Church out of pine needles. It was very authentic. My grandmother also used to make Lebkuchen cookies which we knew as Honey Biscuits. Each biscuit had half a blanched almond on top. Makes me get nostalgic! xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On the 5th we polish the shoes and then place them outside the door, ok often inside (it depends on how well you trust your neighbours and animals that roam around). Then in the night from the 5th to the 6th the boots are filled with sweets, traditionally with nuts, almonds and clementines. That makes me realise that there were no Brazil nuts this Christmas, mmm…
      If you have pine branches you can make an advent wreath really easily, they have to be formed into a wreath, then with wire are held together, and the candles can easily be attached with long nails 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting you would mention the animals roaming around. My two dogs would claim anything on the floor, even in shoes, as theirs. I doubt outside would be safe either. I’ll have to try making a wreath next year…and find a place to put it! xx Rowena

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