One of the best things about living in a different country is discovering and taking part in new holidays. Today, December 6, happens to be Saint Nikolaus Day! Our German family members encouraged us to participate over Thanksgiving and I thought it would be fun, so we did!

This morning, Goldilocks woke up to a Saint Nikolaus Day surprise. Chocolate in her boots! (She often puts toys and bows in our boots so it was fun to see her reaction to us turning the tables on her!) The modern tradition (at least in less-Catholic northern Germany) is that the children of the household leave out their freshly polished boots by their door or radiator and Saint Nikolaus comes in the night on December 6 and fills them with candy, toys and fruits. They wake up the next morning to a delicious treat. It reminds me of the typical American Easter basket.

Saint Nikolaus Day


The holiday has morphed over time as Germany has become more influenced by the tradition of Santa Claus. From what I’ve heard the tradition is now mostly a pre-cursor to the traditional Christmas where Santa Claus comes on Christmas night with presents to put under the tree. But it used to be, and for some areas it still is, an alternative for Christmas. According to the St. Nicholas Center, the holiday traditions differ throughout Germany but most hold that the house along with the shoes are thoroughly cleaned before Saint Nikolaus’ arrival. The children can write letters to him and leave food for him on a plate or in their shoes. Saint Nikolaus may come while the children are sleeping or he may come ring the doorbell and visit with the children. If he comes to visit, the children sing songs to him and he asks them questions about their behavior throughout the year. If they’ve been good he gives them toys and treats from the big bag that he brings along.

Saint Nikolaus Day

Saint Nikolaus Day

It has been really fun to get to know this holiday and I really enjoyed seeing Goldilocks’ reaction to finding chocolate in her boots this morning! Have you taken part in any new holidays or traditions while living overseas? Tell me about them in the comments!

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