This Is Why We Love 6th December – St. Nicholas Day!

St Nicholas Day

Do you want to know why do we love 6th December in Slovakia?
It is a very special day especially for kids because we celebrate St. Mikuláš or St. Nicholas Day, who brings sweet treats to all children to their clean boots while they sleep.
And when they wake up on 6th December, they run to the window to have a look at what Mikuláš brought them.

mikulas radkov
Radito’s painting of St. Nicholas when he was 7.

A Bit From History

St. Mikuláš or St. Nicholas has centuries of tradition in Slovakia and all Europe and it is believed he was a real person. He was born about 270 A.D. in a Greek city Patara in a relatively rich family. After his father’s death, he gave away all his heritage to poor people and dedicated his all life to God and helping people.

It is believed that he was a bishop in a Turkish town called Myra (currently village Demre), this is why Mikuláš or Nicholas is typically dressed in a long red robe.

He was persecuted for his faith and jailed because Myra was the province of a Roman Imperium at that time.
However, nothing could discourage St. Nicholas from his faith and love to God.
It is generally known very little about his life as it was a really long time ago, however, there are few legends which survived and provided a basis for today’s tradition.
It is believed that St. Nicholas died at 6th December and this is why we celebrate him on this particular day.

What One Legend Says

Saint Nicholas

One of the legends says about a poor family with three daughters. Father did not have any dowry for them so they couldn’t get married. It threatened that all three daughters would be sold to a brothel. Unfortunately, many young girls from poor families ended as prostitutes to survive at these times.
St. Nicholas saved them with the pouch full of gold which he secretly thrown through their window.

Maybe it was this legend which brought to a light the tradition of gifting sweets to kids on the Saint Nicholas Day.

How do we celebrate this day now?

As children, we tried to be good all year because we knew that St. Nicholas brings sweet gifts only to good children. Bad children would get onion, charcoal or potato instead of sweets.
The night before 6th December we all had to polish our boots and put them on the window. Then we went to bed in anticipation of what we´ll discover in our boots in the morning.

In the morning we woke up and the first thing we did was to run to the window to check our boots. We have never been disappointed.
While the whole year my eating of sweets was modest, Christmas time was an exception because enormous eating of sweets started right from this day.

The tradition of Saint Nicholas day wasn’t limited for just getting sweets to out boots from parents at home. We usually used to have a special program at school, church or shopping malls.

Many people may confuse this day with the Christmas Eve when we exchange gifts after dinner on the 24th of December. This is something totally different. In our country, gifts under the Christmas tree are brought by little Jesus or so-called “Ježiško” right after dinner. That is what we believe as kids until we are not old enough to understand that in fact, our parents are buying all those gifts and giving them under the Christmas tree. Unlike St. Nicholas Day, Christmas gifts are not limited to sweets only.

Americans have taken over St. Nicholas tradition and made Santa Claus from it. But over time it has become something very different from what we know in Europe, except giving presents.

Even adults are getting treats from St. Nicholas. It is not so magic and innocent than it was when we have been kids, but it is still very nice to buy a bunch of sweets to my husband and put it at night to his boots.

Not celebrated everywhere…

It was very surprising for me when I realized that in New Zealand there is no such thing as a St. Nicholas Day. The truth is that no matter how we love traveling, sometimes we really miss our old European traditions. That’s why we always try to bring them with us.

Do you have a St. Nicholas tradition in your country? What it is like?

© Independent Couple 2015
Some pictures used in this post have been sourced from Google.




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