Just before christmas, we’re celebrating Saint Nicholas Day in many countries to honour the christian bishop from the 4th century, who used his inheritance to help the sick, the suffering and the needy. However, there are different customs to celebrate this day in various countries, like Germany, Italy or Spain.
In Germany, St. Nikolaus is an important part of the christmas season. The evening before the 6th of december, children put their boots in front of the door and hope that Saint Nicholas comes and fills it up with nuts, oranges and sweets. In many families, Saint Nicholas even appears in person to ask the children if they were nice or naughty during the year. There are traditional songs, that the children sing to Saint Nicholas in order to prove their goodness. It is also a widespread custom to gift Saint Nicholas figures, made of chocolate, to friends and family.
In Italy, Santa Nicholas is known as gift-giver and protector of the children – today, his tradition is also refered to the more secular Babbo Natale. Children leave a plate with a letter on the table, where they ask for gifts and promise to be good next year. The next day, they find sweets and fruits – a naughty child could also get a peace of coal, made of coloured sugar.
In Spain, december 6th is even a bank holiday – but not for Santa Nicholas, but to remember the day of the constitution in Spain! The main christmas period in Spain starts with the famous ‘Sorteo extraordinario de Navidad’, the christmas lottery, on december 22nd, and lasts till January 6th, Holy Three Kings.
Wherever you are, the team of Food Hopping Europe wishes you a happy Saint Nicholas day, and hope you all found some nice treats!