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…
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…
In 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.
Before 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.