December 6: Saint Nicholas Day
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December is the month of the year when we receive a lot of presents. Most will automatically think of Christmas when it comes to gifts, but before December 25 there is Saint Nicholas Day at the beginning of the month. And, yes, it is a very loved holiday by Romanian children.
In Romania, Saint Nicholas was depicted as an old kind man with a long white beard travelling on a chariot pulled by a mule on the night of December 6 to deliver presents to the children who were good and a rod those who didn’t behave well. Sounds familiar? It’s another version of Santa Claus, but the myth of Saint Nicholas was been around for much longer. The day of December 6 was believed to be the first day of winter and if it happened to snow on this day, Romanians said it was Saint Nicholas shaking his beard.
The story began with the real Hierarch Nicholas of Myria-Lichia (Turkey nowadays) who was a wealthy man who gave a lot of his money to people in need and ultimately, upon his death, donated his entire fortune to the poor. One of the best known stories tells how Saint Nicholas helped out 3 poor girls from being sold by their father. During the night he threw each of them a bag of gold coins through the window. The bags landed on the ground, either on their socks or in their boots.
This is the reason why the children carefully prepare their boots and leave them on the window sill or below a window on the evening of December 5 and awake to find them filled with goodies the following morning. Usually children receive chocolate, oranges, gingerbread and rarely more expensive gifts. However, as mentioned above, this is valid only for good kids, the mean ones will end up with a simple rod. Hope you weren’t one of the latter…