St. Nicholas Day

My good friend and roommate, the informant, is half German. Her father was born and raised in Germany and her mother is American. The two met while her mother was in Germany and moved to the United States after they married. She is their only child. Her father still has a thick German accent and speaks German with her; she speaks the language fluently and still has family who live in Germany. She lived there from ages 1-3 and then decided last year to study abroad in Berlin. I talked to her about Germany and asked if there are any traditions that she can remember participating in while she lived there.

Informant: “I might butcher some of the details because I don’t remember everything, but on the 5th of December at night, children put their shoes outside of their door for St. Nikolaus, and he comes in the night and fills all of the children’s shoes with coins and um… clementines, and things like that. And you wake up on the 6th with stuff in your shoes. If you were good, it’s basically your reward. If you’re good, you get that, if you’re bad…you get a stick. At least that is how they celebrate in Germany.”

She describes this to me as we sit on my bed. She says it is basically the same thing as Santa Claus in a lot of ways. I think it sounds magical. I love everything to do with Christmas so I love hearing stories about other cultural festive traditions surrounding the holiday and December in general.