Germany and Sankt Nikolaus Day

Germany and Sankt Nikolaus Day

As you now probably know, it is impossible for Saint Nick to travel across the entire world in a single night. And you’re right. But how, then, does he manage to deliver all of the parcels that inevitably end up in our homes in December? The answer is simple. For many people, particularly Germans, Sankt Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) comes at a different time: December 6th.

Germans do not have the Santa Claus that Americans revere. Instead, Sankt Nikolaus brings children their gifts. Celebrated on December 6th, also known internationally as Saint Nicholas Day, Sankt Nikolaus Tag features German children placing their biggest boots outside in hopes that Sankt Nikolaus will fill the shoes with presents. Traditionally these presents were oranges and nuts, but now they can also feature toys and chocolate. In the evening, children will put their shoes outside and run upstairs to wait for him to come. For them, this event marks the coming of the German equivalent of Santa.

Because many Germans do not have a Santa Claus, the time around Christmas later in December is also different. Many Germans attend a service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning, and Germans similarly have a Christmas tree. The tradition of having a tree comes from Paganism in German medieval times, with trees in Germany often featuring candles and other like objects. Christmas Eve is mostly spent with family members, and often carries into early morning on the 25th, where gifts are exchanged among family members in celebration of Jesus’ birth. Other families, particularly families less close to Scandinavia where midnight gift exchanges are prevalent, will exchange gifts at other times on Christmas Day. However, no gifts from Santa Claus can be found. This time of year solely focuses on the birth of Jesus and its religious implications, and has excluded the rise of consumerism that commonly pervades American Christmas. Although gifts in Germany might increase in price and quality with the growth of technology, the greater priority still lies with spending time with family.

Christmas Eve is mostly spent with family members, and often carries into early morning on the 25th, where gifts are exchanged among family members in celebration of Jesus’ birth. Other families, particularly families less close to Scandinavia where midnight gift exchanges are prevalent, will exchange gifts at other times on Christmas Day. However, no gifts from Santa Claus can be found. This time of year solely focuses on the birth of Jesus and its religious implications, and has excluded the rise of consumerism that commonly pervades American Christmas. Although gifts in Germany might increase in price and quality with the growth of technology, the greater priority still lies with spending time with family.



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