This week: NikolausEdited by: Octobersun
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I am Octobersun , and I will be your guest editor for this issue.
December 6th is Nikolaus in Germany
Who is Nikolaus, and is he related to Santa Claus?
On the evening of December 5th, German children put their shoes in front of the door. This could be the house door or simply the door to their bedroom. On the morning of December 6th, they wake up to find nuts, chocolates, oranges, and other goodies in those shoes. That,
at least, used to be the tradition until commercialism transformed it into Christmas light with the presents ranging from small toys to other items that could have a significant monetary value.
The story we heard as children, was that Nikolaus was a sort of helper for Santa Claus who checked in on kids a few weeks before Christmas to make the time to wait for the big present-receiving holiday shorter. When I heard that story in elementary school for the first time, I thought, "Way to go encourage materialism over enjoyment of a holiday."
So, in German lore, Nikolaus and Santa Claus are not the same figure.
When I got older, I heard a different version why December 6th was a day to receive small gifts. Nikolaus, as the story goes, was an old rich Russian man found out that another Russian man was about to sell his three daughters into prostitution. So, he went to their house at night and left three balls of gold so that the father didn't have to sell his daughters. The three daughters were able to get married and live happily ever after. While it certainly wasn't appropriate to tell us about human trafficking in elementary school, it was an eyeopener when I heard the other story as an adult, and kind of ruined my enjoyment of Nikolaus from then on.
As story tellers, the take away is that audience counts. Who do you write for? Are the holidays you use in your book (invented or observed) something positive and fun like making the time shorter, or something dark and scary, like the fear of girls to be sold into prostitution? And how does all this tie into faith?
Faiths are the major driving forces behind observed holidays. Sure, there a few other holidays like Labor Day or such that are more modern and not rooted in faith, but they are also kind of boring when it comes to their lore. You'll get more emotions writing about faith based holidays than practical holidays.
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