Christmas Fact 6


GERMAN ADVENT CALENDAR: FACT OF THE DAY

6. Dezember – Der Adventskalender

St. Nicholas (Der Heilige Nikolaus)

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St. Nicholas freeing three innocent men who were condemned to death by Emperor Constantine. This painting (ca. 1485) is one of twelve scenes originally found on an altar in the St. Mariä church in Mühlhausen, Thuringia. Only two of the original scenes remain today. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

December 6 (and the evening of December 5) is an important day for German and Austrian children. Saint Nick in Germany and Austria doesn’t come on Christmas Eve but on the eve of Nikolaustag. But why is December 6th the date for this celebration?

The historical Saint Nicholas was a man known more accurately as Nicholas of Myra (Nikolaus von Myra). The Greek-speaking Nicholas lived in what is now the Antalya province of Turkey. Few historical details are known about Nicholas of Myra, who later became a bishop, but we do know that he died on December 6, 346. (He was probably born in the year 270.) Although Nicholas is not an official canonized saint, December 6 is his feast day in the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. Known as Nikolaustag in German, December 6 has become a day to honor the gift-giving Bishop of Myra, mostly in Austria and the Catholic regions of Germany and Switzerland.

The German St. Nick goes by many names. Learn more about that and the Nicholas custom in The Many German Saint Nicks, a more detailed look at Germany’s many Santa Clauses.

Also see: Krampus, the Christmas Devil of Alpine Europe – The good bishop-like St. Nicholas has a demonic, nasty companion known as Krampus.

WEB > Saint Nicholas – The historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered by Catholic and Orthodox Christians. (Wikipedia)
WEB > Nikolaus von Myra – Über das Leben des historischen Nikolaus gibt es nur wenige historisch belegte Tatsachen. (Wikipedia, Deutsch)

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