Szent Miklós Day
December 6, 2012 § 3 Comments
I’m in a very Christmas-y mood this morning. There are a number of reasons why this could be: we’ve had our first snow fall this week, we’re heading into the holidays and I miss my family, the coffee shop I study at is in a mall that is fully decked out for Christmas and everyone working there wears a Santa hat, and Christmas episodes of all my favorite shows are out. Another reason could be that it is Szent Miklós Day in Hungary!
Szent Miklós or Mikulás Day is celebrated with a visit from Szent Miklós, or St. Nicolas. On December 5th, Hungarian children polish their best boots and place one in the windowsill or doorway to be filled by St. Nicolas during the night (similar to stockings hanging by the fireplace). The bishop travels to each home with a sack full of presents and a list of naughty and nice children along with his two helpers: a good angel who gives presents to the nice children and a mischevious elf, Krampus, who makes mischief and deals out “presents” to the naughty children.
Children wake on the morning of the 6th to find their boot filled with St. Nicolas’ gifts. If you’ve been good, you’ll find your boot filled with little bags filled with candies, tangerines, oranges, walnuts, apples, chocolate Miklós figures, peanuts, and small presents. Naughty children find twigs painted gold or a wooden spoon. Most children get a little of both.
Mikulás-day is celebrated in schools and day care centers. Children exchange gift bags with each other and the teachers give out chocolate Santa Claus figures. There are sing-alongs to Mikulás songs and children may say their own poems and sing their own songs. If St. Nicholas makes a visit, he calls each child by name, gives them each a personal message, and may stay to play or watch a movie with them.
Christmas is also celebrated in Hungary, but it is baby Jesus that gives gifts on that day. St. Nick’s time to shine is on Szent Miklós Day.
Our Hungarian teacher shared the details of this day with us at Tuesday’s Hungarian class. It clarified a lot of details for me, such as, why there are so many chocolate Santas being sold everywhere and why the guy in front of me at the store bought 20,000 HUF (about $100 or 700,- NOK) worth of chocolate. Our teacher then sang us one of the songs that they sing on Szent Miklós Day:
How am I celebrating Szent Miklós Day? Well, let’s just say that the children of Hungary are having a much more exciting day than I am. I am settled in the couch, drinking tea and writing up a lab report for physics on Skin Impedance (essentially the biological effects of running an electric current through the body). After than I have to cram as much as possible for my Chemistry midterm tomorrow before my physics lecture at 17:00. To keep me in the Christmas mood, I’m listening to a Christmas mix of Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. I was never one for Christmas music…maybe med school is making me a bit more sentimental 🙂