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Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas is celebrated in Germany from the tenth century, and the day of December 6 is chosen as the day of the festival of traders, bakers and sailors. The Saint-Nicolas is today a festival mainly directed towards children, staging the saint-bishop Nikolaos of Myra. It is a perennial tradition in several European countries, which takes place on December 6, or December 19 for the Orthodox Church using the Julian calendar.

St. Nicholas is celebrated in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Romania, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Slovakia, Serbia, Switzerland and north and north-east of France.

Traditions differ by region; a common feature of these celebrations is the distribution of gifts and treats to children, which is behind that of Santa Claus. It is customary for a person disguised as Saint Nicolas to go to schools and other places frequented by children; as traditionally a sugar or carrot is placed at the edge of the window so that the donkey of the bishop can nibble it, when the latter distributes treats and gifts to the children.

In Belgium and northern France, speculoos are traditionally distributed to schoolchildren.

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