This is another tradition that is mainly Catholic (most Protestant religions don't recognize saints). My clever Lutheran parents held off with the stocking thing until Christmas morning to buy themselves some extra minutes of sleep. When my brother and I woke up we could run downstairs to see the wrapped gifts under the tree, but we had to keep relatively quiet until our parents got up. We were, however, allowed to grab our stuffed stockings and unwrap, play with, or devour anything that was in there. We usually made just enough noise to wake them up before long, but when that didn't work our cooperative Sheltie helped us out. "Where's Mom,
When my kids were young, I followed the German custom. They put their shoes in front of their bedroom doors when they went to bed, and
Few children ever ask who St. Nick was. ["Who cares? Just give me the candy. Yeah, you can keep the orange."] Well, I'm here to answer that question for my lucky readers.
There are actually several versions of the story, of course, but this one, which I learned from my Schwiegermutter, is my favorite.
Sankt Nikolaus is depicted as a bishop wearing a red miter and red cloak and carrying a shepherd's staff. He has gray hair and a flowing gray beard. He was the bishop of Myra, in modern-day Turkey, in the first half of the 4th century A.D.. He was a kind and good man who cared for the less fortunate. A poor man in his community had three daughters who all had reached or were nearing marriageable age, but he had no money to provide a dowry for any of them. The girls were in danger of having to turn to lives of prostitution, because of course no man would marry a woman if her father had no money to give him. Nikolaus was wealthy and wanted to help, but secretly so as not to insult the father's pride. During the night while the family was sleeping, Nikolaus tossed three bags of coins one by one into their chimney as he passed by. The girls had washed their only pairs of socks the night before and had hung them at the fireplace to dry. Into these socks the bags of money fell, and when they awoke, the girls were delighted to see that they each now had enough money to marry.
|Don't ask how the sacks of coins landed in the stockings.|
Just go with it.
|one of many of Nast's depictions of Santa, 1881|
|I totally chose this image because of the horses.|
|Three times the horror|
Photo credit: Michael S.
At any rate, I wish you a happy Nikolaustag, and children, I surely hope you've been good!