Nikolaustag: The Magic of Saint Nicholas Day in Germany

Childrens boots filled with treats from St. Nicholas day in germany.
Updated on:

Nikolaustag: The Magic of Saint Nicholas Day in Germany

Hello there! Are you feeling festive and in the holiday spirit? We are! December is a special time in our household, and one of the highlights is undoubtedly Saint Nicholas Day, or Nikolaustag as we say here in Germany. Living in Deutschland has allowed us to experience Nikolaustag in its most traditional form. Let me take you through our St. Nicholas Day experience, I hope you will be inspired to adopt these fun traditions into your holiday season!

The Legend Begins: Saint Nicholas of Myra

The story of St. Nicholas Day begins with the historical figure of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a 4th-century bishop known for his generous heart and acts of kindness. Legends tell of his secret gift-giving, which laid the foundation for the modern-day Santa Claus. One of the most famous tales is how he helped three impoverished sisters by secretly dropping gold coins through their window, which landed in their shoes. This act of kindness is the cornerstone of many traditions we see today.

In many German towns, the figure of St. Nicholas is portrayed as a kind-hearted and charitable bishop, donning a red cloak, mitre, and a long white beard. He is often accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, a more stern companion sent to remind children to be good (also known as Krampus, Belsnickel, etc. depending on the region.) If you want a chance to see St. Nicholas or his companion, you will find many parades throughout Germany celebrating this beloved tradition.

Shine those Shoes!

Now the really fun part. On the eve of December 6th, the excitement is high as my kids anticipate a visit from St. Nicholas. My kids happily clean and scrub their boots and set them outside our front door (we own plenty of boots here in Germany, but any shoes will do). They also clean their bedrooms for good measure.

This age-old tradition stems from the legend of St. Nicholas, a generous soul who would secretly leave coins in shoes left out by those in need. In our modern celebration, instead of coins, the boots are magically filled with treats and small gifts by the morning. Seeing the sparkle in my children’s eyes as they discover what St. Nicholas has left for them is always special.

A Day of Sweet Surprises

The morning of St. Nicholas Day starts with a burst of excitement. The kids rummage through their boots to find chocolates, oranges, nuts, and small toys or books. Sometimes our lovely neighbors also leave extra surprises for our kiddos and we leave small gifts for them, too. It’s a wonderful way to encourage the spirit of giving and sharing – principles that St. Nicholas himself held dear.

St. Nicholas’ magic extends beyond our home to local pre-schools and elementary schools. My kids eagerly anticipate his visit to their school. When they return home in the afternoon, they are so excited to show me what St. Nicholas left for them.

Baking, Reflection, and Gratitude

Many families enjoy baking traditional treats like Stutenkerl (a sweet dough shaped like a man). Also, Gewürzspekulatius, spiced cookies in the shape of St. Nicholas are popular. Admittedly, we take a shortcut and buy our Gewürzspekulatius, from the local grocery store. They are delicious and go great with coffee or tea and my kiddos enjoy them with a glass of milk.

In the evening, our family gathers around to share stories about who St. Nicholas was and about his good deeds towards others. Just like the Advent season, it is also a time for us to reflect on the values of kindness and generosity. I always encourage the kids to think about how they can be like St. Nicholas in their daily lives, spreading kindness wherever they go.

The Magic of Tradition

As we celebrate St. Nicholas Day, we’re not just partaking in festive fun; we’re also keeping alive a tradition that has weathered centuries, a tradition that continues to bring smiles to faces, young and old.

So, whether you’re in Germany experiencing this magical day firsthand or somewhere else in the world, remember the spirit of St. Nicholas – a spirit of kindness, generosity, and joy. Perhaps it will bring some happiness to your family as it has to mine.

Happy St. Nicholas Day to all!

With love and holiday cheer,

St. Nikolaus Muesli cereal for St. Nicholas Day as celebrated in Germany
I have never seen my kids so excited as when our sweet neighbors gifted them St. Nikolaus Muesli for breakfast on St. Nicholas Day!

Ways to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day

  • Familiarize your children with the history and tradition of Saint Nicholas.
  • On the evening of December 5th, have your little one(s) clean their boots or shoes and put them outside the front door for St. Nicholas to fill.
  • While the children are asleep, fill each boot with items of your choosing.
  • Popular and traditional fillers include shelled nuts (peanuts or walnuts), mandarin oranges, apples, ginger or spiced cookies, chocolates, coins, and candy canes.
  • Other fillers: Lip balm, small toys, books, card games, holiday craft kits, ornaments, and any item that you think your child may like.
  • On December 6th, you can extend the celebration by baking St. Nicholas Day treats, doing Nikolaustag crafts or simply sharing more about who Saint Nicholas was and how we can incorporate his positive attributes into our daily lives.
  • For St. Nicholas Day recipes and crafts ideas, head over to Pinterest.
  • Most importantly, have fun celebrating this beloved day!

As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts or comments. If something sparks your interest or if you have any questions, please share them below. And if this piece resonated with you, please consider supporting my site through Buy Me a Coffee. Your support enables me to craft more stories to share with you all. 💕

Journeying Together, Kristie

Disclaimer: Please know that while I pour my heart and soul into providing you with the most accurate and up-to-date information, the world has its way of changing. The details and insights shared here were accurate at the time of penning them down. However, in time, some specifics might shift. Always double-check before making any plans. Safe travels and warm wishes.

Leave a Comment