Dec.6 St. Nicholas Day! Almost forgot
I think I posted this once before, but this is the day to re-tell it:
When I was a little girl, Santa Claus as we know him, did not exist. Gifts were brought by the Christkindel and the helpers an put under the tree at Christmas eve.
Saint Nicholas came on December 6, he was the one who kept track of your good deeds and your Misdeeds. Children put their shoes in the hall by their bedroom door, and in the morning found them filled with sweet treats, perhaps small toys. If they were very bad, they found their shoes stuffed with coal. At least that was the threat.
Sometimes were were lucky and Saint Nicholas came in person. He did not wear red and was not corpulent, he wore sort of farmer's type attire and a woolen cap, his beard was white.
He appeared, carrying a sack over his shoulder and a "Rute", a bundle of switches, in his hand. We had practiced curtsies and learned a little poem to recite for him, then he asked if we had been good, and of course, we asserted that, indeed, we had been exceptional, but he always knew our naughty secrets and asked about them; it was uncanny.
All the ceremonies over, he would empty the sack filled with goodies: nuts and apples and oranges, cookies and candy and small toys all to be picked up from the floor, and while we were bending over, he'd take his Rute and whacked our bottoms some for our misdeeds.
We always were thrilled and excitedly told any family member who had been absent all about it,, they were always sorry that they missed it.
The good Saint's last visit came when Cristina was a little girl, she sat on his lap and remarked that his skin felt like cardboard and then asked "How come you smell like Tante Sonja?" Poor Nicholas had a severe coughing spell and had to leave in a hurry. He never returned.
Carola and I, of course, were a bit older and knew more, also knew Cristina had a tendency to be a smart a$$.