With the beginning of December, all children are impatiently waiting for Santa Claus and gifts…The custom of giving small gifts by an elderly bearded gentleman has its roots in antiquity, and despite that the image of Santa has evolved over the years this tradition of guests in many homes. What does Saint Nicholas’ Day look like abroad? Are all children waiting for Santa on December 6th? Read this!

St. Nicholas’ Day abroad – popular traditions

Saint Nicholas in Germany

In Germany, St. Nicholas’ Day is also celebrated on December 6th. This day is supposed to make the time of Advent and waiting for Christmas, more pleasant. Santa Claus, or der Heilige Nicolaus, comes on the night of December 5th to 6th and leaves gifts in shoes or socks for children. In kindergartens and schools, Santa Claus visits children accompanied by his assistant Knecht Rupprecht, who traditionally wears a brown or black dress with a pointed hood. However, in the north of Germany, instead of Santa, Knecht Rupprecht himself comes along with the Campus dressed in black. Saint Nicholas in Germany is also the Patron Saint of all students.

Saint Nicholas in Austria

In Austria, St. Nicholas’ Day is also celebrated on December 6th. Austrian Santa is helped by Angel and Krampus, who write down in a notebook which children were well behaved and which were not.

On the night of December 5th-6th, the whole family cleans their shoes, because it is in them that Santa Claus leaves the long-awaited gifts.

Saint Nicholas in the Netherlands

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St. Nicholas’ Day in the Netherlands is definitely one of the most unusual traditions. Santa Claus called Sinterklaas begins his wandering around the houses from the first Wednesday after St. Martin’s Day (November 11th) and ends on December 5th. He comes from Spain on a steamer accompanied by a white horse named Schimmel, and colorfully dressed figures with black faces – Black Peters (Zwarte Piet). Children leave their shoes with sugar cubes or carrots for Schimmel in front of their houses and wait, until Black Peter slips down through the chimney with small gifts. Dutch children know a lot of Santa Claus songs, the most popular is “The Steamboat is Coming”, which they sing to welcome Santa.

Saint Nicholas in Iceland

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In the past, Santa Claus traditions on this island were a bit scary – naughty children not only did not get gifts, but they were also eaten by the terrible Trolls – Grýla and Leppalúði. Today, Troll children called Jólasveinar, come home for 13 days before Christmas and leave small gifts for well-behaved children in their shoes every day. Naughty kids get a raw potato!

Saint Nicholas in Belgium

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In Belgium, Santa Claus appears in various forms depending on the region.

In the north it is Saint Nicolas and in the Walloon region it is Père Noël

accompanied by a white horse and Père Fouettard, or Black Peter.

Santa Claus visits children twice – first on December 4th to check if they have been behaving well, and then on December 6th already with gifts.

Saint Nicholas in Switzerland

In Switzerland, well-behaved children expect to receive gifts from Samichlaus, and unfortunately Schmutzli comes to the naughty ones.

This tradition dates back to the tribes that settled in the lands of modern Switzerland. At that time, December 6th was named the festival of noise and masks. The grand celebration was to scare away the spirit of death, which in their case was the spirit of a dark and cold winter. Times have changed, but the spirit remained the personification of evil to scare away naughty children.

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In Norway, France or Denmark, St. Nicholas’ Day is not that popular. Children wait for the gifts until Christmas itself. Joulupukki, or Finnish Santa Claus (literally translated as “Christmas goat”) also visits the children on the first Christmas Day. On a daily basis, Joulupukki lives with his reindeer in Lapland on Mount Korvatunturi.

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However, in Spain or Italy, small gifts are given on January 6th on the occasion of the Epiphany.

This holiday is not celebrated in Sweden at all. Children get Christmas presents from the elf Jultomte.

Saint Nicholas’ Day abroad is celebrated in various ways, but it is always a day full of joy, especially for the youngest!

And you, how do you celebrate December 6th?

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