Hello Robbie, you asked me to write about Santa Claus in Germany.
Sorry, but for my grandsons and most German children (as I ;-), today
on this evening, the Holy Night, das Christkind [the Christ-child] will
come. Detected by nobody, 'it' will lay down presents beneath the
decorated Christmas Tree and fly away to the next house. (As I did
just before this writing. No, not fly to the next house, but to
decorate the Christmas Tree; my grandsons will come tomorrow. )
Though we think of the little Jesus, the Christ-child seems to be
a little girl in a white shirt, wearing a crown on its head.
Santa Claus, "der heilige Nikolaus", was a bishop. His day is
December 6th. He wears a red robe and a white beard, as everybody
knows. On the evening before, children put a shoe before the bedroom
door. Next morning they will find sweets and a little present there.
There are parents who hire a Nikolaus on the evening of December 5th
to frighten their children. Even worse, Nikolaus is sometimes guided
by "Knecht Ruprecht" [a helper to St. Nicholas], a wild one with a
darkened face and a rod (eine Rute) in his hand. Nikolaus reads the
delinquent's sins of the past year from a golden book, and Ruprecht
gives him a rap with the rod for each sin. Then follow little presents
out of Nikolaus's bag for the good turns.
Clever children sometimes recognize the shoes and say, "Oh, Uncle
Fritz, it's you ! What are the presents you're bringing me ?"
But on Christmas there is no "Santa Claus" for all I know. ;-).
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas with presents
from a charming 'Christkind' and no penalties from 'Nikolaus'.
[ I remember a German friend remarking, "Oh, everyone has an
[ 'Onkle Fritz'; that's why he is always in jokes!" Thanks for
[ your story, Horst; I really enjoy learning about all the different
[ foreign tales and customs which have come to America, and have
[ somehow survived. ... Somewhat like our mechanical musical
[ instruments have survived. Froehliche Weihnachten ! -- Robbie