Thursday, December 6, 2012

Considering the Feast of St. Nicholas

While reading about the Krampus, Clem had noticed quite a bit about St. Nicholas, since in the northern European countries Krampus was usually paired with the saint, and Nicholas’ holiday was the day after Krampusnacht.  From what she had seen, it looked as though St. Nicholas Day was kind of like “Christmas Lite”.  There were presents, but not a lot, candy, but not a lot and there didn’t seem to be any feasting tradition, so it was probably a lot nicer for the adults involved all around.  No one had to go roasting a goose or turkey, or baking giant hams or lasagnas.  And what kind of animal did a lasagna come from anyways?  

Clem went back to one of the websites she’d seen that described country traditions for the Feast of St. Nicholas.  It seemed that in Germany children put their shoes outside and their parents put little gifts in them.  Some websites said this was the precursor of Christmas Stockings.  Considering the size of most kids’ feet, the fancy Christmas stockings were definitely the way to go, from Clem’s point of view.  You could barely fit one small present in a child’s shoe, but those stretchy knit stockings?  You could fit a whole bunch of stuff in one of those.  She knew, because the yarn lady had filled one for her last year.  It had cat toys and all sorts of things in it. 

Several of the websites talked about how St. Nicholas might come with a counterpart named Black Peter, and he was the one who might discipline children by giving them coal if they hadn’t been good children.  It seemed like the Krampus was a messed-up version of Black Peter, perhaps by someone who really didn’t like children very much, but who had a lot of authority, perhaps in the church way back when, and the tradition stuck.  Clem much preferred the idea of a benevolent St. Nicholas who handed out little gifts to good children rather than a monster who whipped bad children and carried them off to hell.  You’d have to be pretty demented to prefer the Krampus to St. Nick, she thought to herself and snickered. 

As Clem surfed through various websites describing the celebrations, she noticed that in a lot of them the saint looked like a skinny Santa Claus.  As she thought that she said the name ‘Santa Claus’ in her head and thought how it sounded kind of like Saint Nicholas.  She wondered if maybe they didn’t just look alike, maybe they’d started out the same guy, but when he moved to this country and started eating fast food he’d gained weight, and the bennies, with their funny accents mispronounced his name until it became Santa Claus.  Clem shook her head.  Humans, they don’t get anything right. 


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