Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2010 - Dec. 11 Other Traditions

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there...
Clement C. Moore, A Visit From St. Nicholas

For as many Christmas's that I can remember, we celebrated St. Nicholas Day. It wasn't until I was in junior high school (now referred to as middle school) that we had a fireplace; until that time, our stockings, made by my mother, were hung wherever possible on December 5th in anticipation of the arrival of St. Nick.

According to Wikipedia the legend of St. Nicholas has its roots in Greece. Like most legends, the story behind the how and why St. Nicholas delivered gifts seems more suited to Criminal Minds than Disney. My family's observance of St. Nicholas Day have strong ties with the German traditions of celebrating Nikolaus leaving me to believe they are traditions from my maternal Germanic side of the family.

In Germany, children place a boot outside their front door on the night of Decemer 5th when St. Nikolaus arrives to fill them with small gifts and treats. It is also during this time when St. Nick checks to see if the children have been behaving. Sometimes a disguised St. Nick will visit the children at their home or school to get a report. If you did not receive a satisfactory passing grade, depending on where you lived dictated what St. Nick left as a warning. In many countries he left a switch or a stick and in others a lump of coal.

As stated in a prevous post the true identity of Santa Claus has a family connection and it makes perfect sense that this fact wasn't known to one and all. My grandfather did have a wonderful sense of humor.

When my youngest sister was probably three or four-years old, Grandma and Grandpa Space came to visit coincidentally as we were getting ready to celebrate St. Nick's Day. As this was the house with the fireplace, we were even more excited to have our stockings hung by the chimney with care. Grandpa began quizzing the youngest sister about St. Nick, what was all this about stockings and why would we be getting presents when it wasn't Christmas. As my sister's frustration grew, Grandpa did not let up on his questioning, "Who is St. Nick?" and was finally bested by my sister's answer, "He's Santa Claus's brother you dummy!"

It was a moment that my Grandfather remembered and laughed about for the rest of his life.

With the exception of "A Visit From St. Nicholas" all copy and photograph
Copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski. 2010

1 comment:

Tipper said...

I grew up with no fireplace for the stockings-and we don't have one now either-we just hange them around : )

Love the story-such a sweet memory for your family!


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