I woke up yesterday morning, the 6th of December, to find a bright red box with a shiny gold bow sitting on my shoes. Ah, my roommate is so thoughtful! The night before she had asked if I knew about St. Nikolaus Day; a day they celebrate at home in Germany. This day is celebrated to remember the Roman Catholic bishop who gave everything for the poor and less fortunate. Good children receive something in their shoes or stockings, goodies of sorts that are meant for sharing. Traditionally this was nuts, mandarins, oranges or apples, while naughty children received potatoes or charcoal. Seeing as this morning was a Tuesday, the day when my roommate needs to be downtown extremely early, she had already left when I got up and tried to chase her downtown say thank you.
When I opened the bedroom in search of my roommate, there taped to our bedroom door and everyone else’s doors was a little bag full of treats for each person. It looks like we were all good this year.
In the breakfast hall the first advent candle on the wreath was lit, there was Happy St. Nikolaus Day poster up and those who are German told us of how they celebrated growing up. One friend said that St Nikolaus came to deliver the goodies to well-behaved children, but that poorly-behaved children were beaten with a rod or thrown into the sack belonging to the evil character who would accompany St. Nikolaus. Some believe that this evil character, which many children legitimately fear, would later take them from the sack and eat them up. I say evil character only because there were so many different interpretations of what he was, what he carried and how he treated the children. If you look it up online, you’ll see this is true. Peter said he was terrified because his parents would have someone come in the night dressed up as St. Nikolas and that sometimes the evil devil-like character was there too, lingering. St. Nikolaus was always dressed in the clothing and hat of a bishop. In Peter’s house, St. Nikolaus also warned the children about their behaviour, encouraging them to behave well; to get along better with younger brothers and to take care of each other – no more picking fights with siblings. As kids, they were amazed how St. Nikolaus knew so much about them. It is clear to see where the North American idea of Christmas and Santa Claus comes from. From now on I will celebrate St. Nikolaus Day and Christmas. Pourquoi pas?
Then that evening, when I came home from meeting a friend for dinner the first thing I saw inside Boarding House was a Christmas Tree. Oh, let the festivities begin!
Dinner, by the way, was awesome. I am always so encouraged when I meet other single, strong, female professionals, working and traveling around the world. This Laura I met in Zanzibar, and she has spent about 2 months traveling since her contract ended, applying for jobs, meeting all kinds of people, and having the time of her life before heading back to the United States. We had such a fun evening. It was not only encouraging, but is always good to know there are others out there that would be good to travel with or visit someday; depending where in the world work takes us.