On the night of December 5th, we’ll clean up our shoes and place them outside the front door, along with a plate of treats including carrots for his donkey.
We’ll cuddle up on the couch in front of the fireplace, drink Kinderpunsch and Glühwein, listen to Adventslieder, and read stories about Sankt Nikolaus. We’ll chat about gift giving, how it’s not about the recognition, but giving something of yourself and choosing a gift that really suits the other person.
On December 6th morning, the kids jump out of bed early, rushing to be the first to open the door. Did he come? Ja, der Sankt Nikolaus war da! The shoes are filled with chocolate coins, nuts and an orange. A small wrapped gift sits next to each shoe. And there are carrot pieces spread down the driveway - oh, that messy donkey!
The tradition of Sankt Nikolaus has been a part of our family for years. It’s a tradition that Thea’s family (Americans of German heritage) carried on, with yearly visits from St. Nicholas and Schwarz Peter. Erik’s family tradition (Mutti is from the Bodensee) was the Nikolaus and Knecht Ruprecht or the Krampus. When we lived in Amsterdam, we adopted Sinterklaas and Zwaarte Piet.
Our Nikolaus may be dressed as a Catholic bishop with a mitra and staff, he may ride a white horse or walk beside a donkey, or he may be a tall, skinny man in a long simple hooded robe. Whatever his form, he brings with him tradition, family memories, and love.
May the blessings from the Nikolaus visit your home too!