Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Nikolaus was here

Everyone was up early this morning to see what St. Nicholas had brought. Lots of sweets, a calendar for Boy12, a Beyblade for Boy9, cozy socks for me and some spirits for Mr. M. Oh, and the scarves which will be photographed at a later date after I get them how I want them.

As I mentioned, we hang our Christmas stockings on the fireplace instead of putting out our shoes.



All the stockings have been in the family for a long time and we use them year after year.



Boy12's is on the far left. We spent Christmas in Canada when he was 9 months old and my mum made him his first stocking. Poor Mr. M didn't even have a stocking back then, so I had to make him one too - it's on the far right. It was kind of an emergency solution and I think it's a bit small, but somehow I never got around to making him a new one and he's never complained.

Mine is the fancy green one, second from the right, which my mum created for me when I was about 13. It's cheesy but it means a lot to me. Boy9's is second from the left. He was crazy about all kinds of trucks when he was very small, so I made him a stocking to reflect his interest.

German children have it really good - they get a visit from Nikolaus on Dec. 6 and then, depending on what part of Germany they're in, the Christkind or the Weihnachtsmann comes again on the 24th with more presents.

In Germany, Nikolaus is accompanied by his helper Knecht Ruprecht who carries his bag of sweets and gifts and hands out switches to naughty children. In Switzerland the names change to Samichlaus and Schmutzli.
Along with Knecht Ruprecht, there are also stories of a meaner, devil-like figure known as a Krampus who appears in some parts of Germany, Hungary and Croatia, accompanying Nikolaus on his rounds and threatening to beat children who dare to misbehave. Yikes.

Other names for Nikolaus in different countries are Klass, Sint Nicolaas, Sinterklaas (Holland), Samichlaus (Switzerland) oder Kleeschen (Luxemburg). Father Christmas (England), Père Noël (France), and Santa Claus (North America). All of these have their origins in St. Nicholas, who was bishop of Myra (in Turkey) during the first part of the 4th century, but many look different and bring gifts at Christmas instead of Dec. 6.

Nikolaus and the North American Santa Claus appear to be the same figure, but they differ somewhat in their appearance. Nikolaus traditionally wears a bishop's mitre (pointy hat) and long robes and carries a staff. Santa Claus wears a red suit and a fur-trimmed cap and is called the Weihnachtsmann, the Christmas Man, in German.

17 Comments:

At December 06, 2005 2:36 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

So great! What fun. I think I wil have to incorporate this into our CHristmas next year to celebrate our German background. We have stockings that go way back and have lots of sentimental meaning as well; ours are knit stockings, though. I will post a photo at some point, I am sure. Have a great day wearing your cozy new socks!

 
At December 06, 2005 2:43 PM, Blogger christina said...

Thanks, Cathy! It's a really nice tradition and makes it a bit easier for the kids to last until Christmas. I bet your stockings are great. I love learning about other peoples family traditions.

 
At December 06, 2005 2:58 PM, Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

Hehehe, I didn't get anything for Nikolaus...I didn't ask for anything either.

Anyhow, was planning to make a Rüblikuchen...but they're out of ground almond at my Tengelmann's and I couldn't be bother making the small decorative mazipan carrots myself either. So, I'll have to have a look at Galeria Kaufhof's or Karstadt's Feinkostabteilung today after the uni to see if I can get the rest of the ingredients. Then I'll bake that tomorrow since my only seminar falls out. *g* If everything goes well, I'll make a photo of the cake. ;)

 
At December 06, 2005 4:44 PM, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Those are wonderful traditions! And such a good idea.

I was so confused when I had my first Christmas in Switzerland being from North America. I was trying to figure out what to call Pere Noel in English. I just went along with it what everyone else said! I was taught about this in school but I forgot it all of course.

If you were living in Vancouver again, would you venture to use the German traditions?

 
At December 06, 2005 5:06 PM, Blogger Haddock said...

I heard that Santa Claus suit was originally all white, and that Coca Cola ran a big advertising campaign in 1930's with Santa wearing a red & white suit. Slowly after a few years Santas offical suit became red & white.

Not sure how true this is. It may of course just be an urban legend.

 
At December 06, 2005 5:49 PM, Blogger christina said...

elemm - a Rüblikuchen sounds great. Seems like a lot of the baking stuff is sold out at this time of year - hope you managed to get everything.

Expat - I know what you mean - the first few years it's like, huh? what holiday are we celebrating today. I think if we moved we'd keep a lot of the traditions since my kids are so used to them.

haddock - I heard that too but then I did read somewhere that it is indeed an urban legend and that the colours red and white were used in bishop's robes long before the Coca Cola ads came along. But Coca Cola kind of marketed the way Santa Claus should look and it seems to have stuck

 
At December 06, 2005 6:00 PM, Blogger cmhl said...

I love those stockings, did you make them?? love them!

 
At December 06, 2005 6:11 PM, Blogger christina said...

Thanks cmhl - I made two and my mother made the other two.

 
At December 06, 2005 6:57 PM, Blogger Betty said...

Your pictures and your house look enchanting. When I was a little army brat in Germany all those years ago that's how I saw the country. It was looking through frosted glass into a fairy world. Your stockings are works of art.

 
At December 06, 2005 8:16 PM, Blogger christina said...

Why thank you, dear Betty!

 
At December 07, 2005 12:05 AM, Blogger Dixie said...

Those stockings really are wonderful. Stuff that great memories are made of.

 
At December 07, 2005 12:15 AM, Blogger GC PHILO said...

I miss my Christmas stocking back home... I had the same one sice I was a little kid with my name stiched into it. Now I don't even have a fireplace!

 
At December 07, 2005 6:53 AM, Blogger Crystal said...

I have Christmas stockings too, but I usually don't hang them or throw in any surprises for Robi. Maybe that will be different this year! Great job at breaking down and explaining the diverse versions of Nikolaus, i.e. Santa Claus, it's so interesting hearing about other people's traditions.

p.s. I've re-launched my blog, new link: http://www.wideopenwonder.blogspot.com

 
At December 07, 2005 9:11 AM, Blogger christina said...

dixie - I like having things that remind me of my childhood and I want my kids to have those memories too.

gc philo - Get your mom to send it to you!! We don't have a fireplace either, just the electric one you see in the picture but it does the trick.

Hi Crystal - I bet Robi would love it. When I was a kid we did the traditional Christmas Day stocking thing, but here we just switched it to Dec. 6. Found your new blog - I like the name!

 
At December 08, 2005 7:45 AM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

I've seen just about every pic you posted on your blog, Christina, and I have yet to find evidence of your so-called "messy house". I don't believe you anymore. You put Martha Stewart to shame (and me) with all your lovely homemade stockings and knitwear and your "Better Homes & Gardens" backyard.

 
At December 08, 2005 10:21 AM, Blogger christina said...

Seawitch - I swear it's an optical illusion! No joke. I just push all the crap to one side and take a picture.

 
At December 10, 2005 4:53 AM, Blogger Jenne said...

St. Nicholas comes to our house on Dec 6, too! Then Santa Claus on the 25th, and Bella Befana (Italian) on Jan 6. I wonder why my kids are spoiled.

 

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