Hohoho - Santa Claus is here
Santa Claus is celebrated in Germany every year on the 6th December. While “Sinterklaas” already arrives in the Netherlands on a ship from Spain in the middle of November, “Kleeschen” is celebrated in Luxembourg, “Julemand” in Denmark and “Nikolaus” in Germany on the 6th December.
In every country Santa Claus is celebrated a little bit differently. In Germany, Santa Claus is foremost a children’s festival. Every year on the evening of the 5th December children will put their cleaned boots in front of the door and Santa Claus will stuff them with little presents, sweets, fruit and nuts during the night.
Sometimes, Santa Claus even visits the children personally wearing his bishop-gown with a long white beard, a Hydra (bishop’s mitre), a bishop’s crook and a golden book. He praises their good behavior, expresses his disapproval with their naughtiness and gives presents to the children. Typically, children will say thank you with a poem or a song. A typical Santa Claus-song is: “Lasst uns froh und munter sein…”.
Often, a scary person called Knecht Ruprecht accompanies Santa Claus. In other areas of Germany Knecht Ruprecht is called Belzebub, Krampus or Bullerklas. He represents the evil, the devil. He has a black face, wears dirty torn clothes and is put in chains. He also carries a “Rute” (a wooden stick) and a sack. Due to his wild appearance he scares the children and warns them to be of a better behaviour the next year.
But where has this tradition its origins?
Supposedly, a bishop called Nikolaus of Myra lived in the 4th century in today’s Turkey and has performed many miracles. For example he could prevent a poor father from forcing his daughters into prostitution by putting a little bit of money in their socks over the fireplace. He saved sailors who got into difficulties due to a heavy storm by stepping onto the ship and moderating the storm. And he is supposed to have protected Myra from a great famine.
So, Santa Claus is celebrated mainly due to his kindness and generosity as an introduction before the big celebration on Christmas Eve.
Enjoy your first “Nikolaus” in Germany! :-)