Children put out boots for Santa Claus

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Children will place their boots outside their rooms Monday night to have them filled up by Santa Claus with candy, cookies, nuts, oranges and little gifts during the night. Tuesday is “Nikolaustag,” Santa
Claus Day.

The day is observed in honor of Saint Nikolaus, who was bishop of Myra,
Asia Minor during the fourth century. Nikolaus was born around A.D. 270
in Patras. As the patron of children, he is one of the most favored

Legend says he once restored to life three little boys who were killed
by an evil innkeeper, cut up and preserved in barrels of vinegar.
Nikolaus found them, put them together and after saying a prayer, the
boys were alive again.

Saint Nikolaus is also known as patron of skippers, because he was able to calm down stormy seas and save sailors’ lives.

In another legend, Nikolaus became the patron of maidens. He saved
three daughters of a poor family from becoming prostitutes because they
did not have a dowry. One night, he secretly dropped bags of gold
through their windows so the girls would be able to marry. Actually, he
helped a lot of needy people by quietly giving gifts.

Nowadays, besides visiting families at home, Santa Claus also makes his
appearance in kindergartens where he recites each child’s name out of
his golden book and mentions if the child behaved well or not.

The children have to sing him a song, before they receive chocolate and sweets.

Some children fear him because he might bring them a rod to let them
know that they did not behave well throughout the year. But usually the
rod is hung with sweets and is supposed to remind children of their bad

The costume of Nikolaus varies from place to place. In some German
regions he is dressed like a bishop with a mitre and bishop’s crook and
is accompanied by “Knecht Rupprecht,” a shabbily dressed peasant who
carries the sack of toys and treats, flourishes bundles of rods and
threatens punishment to naughty children.

In the KMC, he appears mostly in a red robe and a peaked cap and has a
long white beard. He is a friendly old man, who accepts children’s
Christmas wish lists and asks children to promise to change for the