Especially for children, the day of St. Nicholas is a highlight in the run-up to Christmas.
On the evening of the 5th of December, it is customary for the children in German speaking countries to put their newly cleaned boots on their doorstep to find them on the morning of the 6th of December filled with apples, tangerines, nuts and chocolates. In some families, Nicholas also comes personally with a big bag over his shoulder, often accompanied by his servant Rupprecht, and distributs his gifts.
The historic Nicholas lived in the year 300 in Asia Minor. As Bishop of Myra he was known for his charity and helpfulness towards the poor and the children. Since the 6th century he was worshiped as a saint and there are numerous wondrous legends about him.
Since my eldest was 1 year old we celebrate Saint Nicolas at home with a big party for the children.
It’s a real pleasure for me to have children of my boys’ age in the house and to let them know about St Nicholas, the custom and the beautiful traditions.
Each year, about fifteen children, with their parents, are invited to the house for a Saint Nicholas afternoon tea party. The arrival of the great Saint in person who passes a message on to the children, reading from his golden book, congratulating them on things well done and remindimg them to do better in other areas. At the end, Saint Nicholas asks them for a little song!
Normally I invite children up to the age of 8 or 9 because after that they generally stop believing and I am furiously protective of the magic for the youngest.
I prepare savoury and sweet things that children and adults alike will love.
This year there were Christmas cookies like Vanillekipferl, Linzer Augen, Pfefferkuchen, Elisenlebkuchen, Coconut Bites, Christstollen, Kokoskuppeln and Florentines, all favorites in my family. There were also heaps of sweet shooters , such as Chocolate Mousses, Strawberry Mousses, Lemon Mousse, Clementine Trifle and Citrus Panna Cotta.
With that, the typical Austrian savoury canapés, a cake because we always celebrate one or the other birthday at that time of year and a chocolate fountain with fruits to dip in. For drinks I serve my fabulous hot chocolate, tea and coffee as well as mulled wine!
This year for the first time I made a tree for children, not decorated with my beautiful collection of glass baubles, but decorated with Lebkuchen, Windringerl and brightly wrapped chocolates like in olden times! At the end of the party, the children had the right to empty the whole tree of its treats! It was a joy for them and for us!
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