Do you know where Santa Claus got his name from? From the Dutch. Their name for the legendary bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra is Sinterklaas which turned into Santa Claus. And the Germans call the same person Nikolaus. There are a few differences between Santa Claus and Nikolaus. Santa Claus wears a white trimmed red coat, rides around in a reindeer-drawn sleigh (the reindeer all having pretty German sounding names) and visits houses in the night before Christmas to fill stockings. And while there is the very similarly dressed Weihnachtsmann bringing the presents on Christmas Eve in Germany the German Nikolaus is a bit different. He often wears a white or beige outfit with a bishops mitre, like Santa Claus he is also sneaky but he comes in the night before Saint Nicholas Day which is December 6th and fills the shoes of good kids with treats. It is said that he would put coals or sticks in bad kids shoes but to my knowledge that has never ever happened.
It is a tradition that Nikolaus also pays a visit to Portland Kinderschule on a weekend around December 6th, so this year we greeted the highly anticipated visitor during our Nikolausfeier on December 11th. All of Kinderschule was there that evening including a few alumni and also families who will join our school next year. After a few Christmas carols were sung the kids dressed up as angels gave a little performance on stage that the teachers had prepared with them. Next the parents were given presents that the kids had made at school for them. And then it was time for the big buffet that among other more hearty dishes also included a wide selection of German Christmas cookies and treats like Stollen or Pfeffernüsse. And toward the end of the meal there was suddenly a knock on the door and a big bearded man with sack full of goodies showed up. It was time for the kids to meet Nikolaus. And of course with the nice kids of Portland Kinderschule there were no coals and sticks.