Today is traditionally the day when St. Nikolaus brings gifts to good boys and girls in most German speaking countries – bad kids get sticks.
In the Middle Ages, this was the only Christmas gift-giving day during the festive season. These days most Germans give their gifts on Christmas Eve, but the Nikolaustag tradition continues.
On the previous evening kids – and adults – give their shoes a good clean and place them outside their front door. In the night, Nikolaus pays a visit.
Goodies for the good kids
If you’ve been good your shoes will be filled with gifts, chocolates, sweets, and other treats on December 6. If you’ve been bad you’ll only find sticks. The tradition comes from the feast day of Catholic Saint Nicholas, who may have been the original inspiration for Father Christmas.
In some parts of Europe, Nikolaus doesn’t always come alone. Watch out for Nikolaus’ terrifying hairy friend – you won’t want to bump into him on a dark night…