Saturday, December 6, 2008

St Nicholas Day

As far as I can tell, St Nicholas Day is practically unknown in the US, but considering how early the decorations go up, including stockings for bearing little treats, we might as well let his story out. I spent a couple of Decembers in Hungary in the 90s, where children clean and shine their winter boots or shoes on the night of December 5th, and set them out. The next day, St Nicholas Day, they wake to find them filled with goodies. I also witnessed St Nick visiting a classroom full of kindergarten kids on his saint's day, enraptured to see him and receive his gifts.

I know, this is just weird (of me to post). They may not have Princess Parking anymore, but City Hall has a great, big Christmas stocking hung on a pair of doors to the Council Chambers.


Dina said...

Hehe, a funny scene indeed.
Funny you (in America) should mention it. My nun neighbor-friends came over last night to welcome the Sabbath and have dinner. Two of them are Dutch, so I surprised them with wrapped St.Nicholas Day gifts on their plates. They were reminded of holiday stories of childhood in the Old Country.
Thanks for telling the Hungary story.

Jilly said...

I'm trying to avoid Christmnas - so far anyway but it's good to read the history of St. Nicholas and to see your cute photo.

Laurie Allee said...

Well, happy St. Nicholas Day!!!

Chuck Pefley said...

Interesting spot for a stocking ... and I'm certain there was no pun intended with your line "stockings for bearing little treats" given the prominent placement of that little brown guy :)

Ron Bloomquist said...

I stopped in the Savings Bank of Mendocino the other day and noticed they had beautifully wrapped packages hanging on the walls in various places for decoration. I wish I had taken a photo because I know each beautifully wrapped package was empty! All show and no substance!

Petrea Burchard said...

I love it; never knew of this tradition before.

Hilda said...

I think I read about St. Nicholas' Day way back when I was a kid, but I'm wondering now if they still celebrate Christmas.

That's a huge stocking! And is the council on an early holiday break or something? It doesn't look like you can open the doors, the way the stocking's hung! Cute teddy bear though.

USelaine said...

Dina - Your neighborhood sounds so interesting! And with your thoughtfulness, you demonstrate your core values as a citizen of the world. Bless you.

Jilly - I avoid it too! Over here, it seems to have lost many of its finer distinctions, and now it's all about shopping.

Laurie - And to you too!

Chuck - I swear, I didn't even think of it. Bear with me, while I try to keep up.

Ron - Well, maybe that's where they hide the money.

P - Saints' days are quite the thing, apparently, in Europe and the Catholic formerly-colonial countries. Even in England, they refer to things like "Michaelmas" on their calendars. In Hungary, you have to name your children from an approved book of names, which correspond to specific saints' days (one way or another). My name is a variation of Helen, which is Ilona in Hungarian. If it had been Moonstone, or Britney, I wouldn't have blended in.

Hilda - They still celebrate Christmas, but it has a healthy separation from the Santa Claus part of it (to my way of thinking anyway). They still give gifts and decorate, etc. In the US, we just slam everything together for the whole month: three kings (they belong in January), Santa Claus, the Nativity, mistletoe (pre-Christian), yule-logs (depending on your ancestry), hanging stockings, candy canes, toys, stars, camels, and angels.

As for the doors, I wondered if anyone would ask about that. 6^) There are three pairs of doors into the chambers, so they can do without this set.

Thanks for dropping in for St Nick!

Dina said...

Hallo Ilona.

Halcyon said...

My husband is German and they do the St. Nick's Day there as well. We're going to do our socks on 6 January this year though since we're going to Germany for the holidays and I don't want to drag a bunch of stuff back and forth. the Epiphany is the tradition in Spain and Itlay for gift-giving.

Z said...

It's a very big thing in CH as well, but I haven't been able to get an appropriate photo during my time here so nothing on my blog yet. Maybe that's a photo op during three kings day, if I can plan ahead.