The feast of the polished boots

Ever heard of "Nikolaus"?

Saint Nicholas was an early Christian bishop in what is today part of Turkey and (far more importantly for kids) as a consummate gift giver, the most likely inspiration for today's Santa Claus. But in Germany and some other countries he retains his own separate feast in early December, which involves chocolates and lots of shoe polish.

Obviously when we were kids, we never much cared for who he was, when our parents asked us every year on December 5th to polish our shoes and put them outside. If the shoes were really shiny, then St Nicholas would come at night and leave (small) presents or sweets in them. Anyone with dirty boots, or who had generally been naughty, got a little wooden stick instead.

Of course, we're passing on this tradition to our kids, so they would clean their own shoes at least once a year :-) so tonight will be shoe-polishing night, and the bigger the shoe the more presents St Nicholas can fit in. xo Beatrix

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