Does your Professional Au Pair come from Germany or Austria? Chances are high that she/he grew up with the tradition of Sankt Nikolaus coming to their house on the 6th of December!
You never heard of him or about this tradition, which sounds like an early Christmas ? Well, here is a short explanation about the not so small event:
What is this tradition about?
December 6th is a special day for most German/Austrian children! It’s the day ‘Sankt Nikolaus’ (Saint Nicholas) is coming to fill their boots overnight. Does this sound familiar to you? Well, you could argue about the fact that this tradition might come very close to the Santa Claus traditions, which most American/Australian children are happily waiting for on Christmas Day. But there are still some differences between these two days and their traditions.
The biggest being that the St. Nikolaus’ story goes way back in history (roughly in the 3rd Century) and took place in what we know nowadays as Turkey. He was a very kind man that helped a lot of children and families in secret, which is why he also has the nickname: Nikolaus the ‘Wonderworker’.
After his death the Christian people started to celebrate the Nikolaus – traditions in the 6th Century and has spread afterwards over most of Europe. As it is a Christian tradition the celebration is concentrated in the countries that are mainly Catholic.
So what does happen on December 6th?
First of all, like mentioned earlier, the special event takes places in the night from December 5th to 6th. Therefore, the kids are usually up very early in the morning of December 6th to go check their boots at the front door!
It is the tradition to put one boot of your pair outside at the front door (two might come across as too greedy, so only one!) and let it stay there overnight. In the morning, it is filled with different things like walnuts, tangerines, coins and of course the famous chocolate Nikolaus! Depending on how generous Saint Nikolaus is there might even be a small gift in their boot, too!
Furthermore, there are several different other traditions happening on this day. For example, there is the tradition of the Nikolaus coming to town with his angels and his brother/Alter-ego ‘Krampus’. The Krampus is known under very different names like Krampus, Knecht Ruprecht or Klaus and he comes in different forms and shapes! And his job is to ‘take care’ of the naughty kids!
Depending on the region (it's mostly a southern German tradition) in Germany there might be a chance that the Krampus might come with a ‘Rute’ (in engl: switch/branch) to give the naughty kids a little ‘spanking’. So better be nice kids!! 😉 Don’t worry this tradition is very old and most of the times the Krampus only carries it with him to remind the kids to be nice and watch their manners!
There are also parades where you can just stand and watch St. Nikolaus, the Angels and the Krampus’ in their fabulous costumes come to the town market square and give out little presents to the young children! This happens every year in almost every town and makes a lot of kids very happy!
There are also times, when St. Nikolaus comes to your home in private (sometimes even with his angels and the Krampus/Knecht Ruprecht!) He will have his golden book that knows everything about how you behaved this year and if you have been a good child, you will get your presents from him personally. If not… well there is always Knecht Ruprecht with his ‘Rute’! 😉
On Christmas (which is actually celebrated on Christmas Eve/December 24th) in Germany it is either the 'Weihnachtsmann' (Father Christmas or Santa Claus) or the 'Christkind' (Christ-child) coming to the homes and bringing presents for the whole family! No scary figures like the Krampus involved! 😉
So now you know a lot more about why December 6th is a special day for your Professional Aupair! Maybe you can share this great tradition with your family and see how excited your kids get in the morning checking out their boots at the front door!
© Pictures belong to Klausen- und Bärbeleverein Immenstadt e.V. Thank you for sharing them!
Do you want to read more about the traditions and the differences between your country and the home country of your Professional Aupair?
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