Tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day, what in my family growing up was the true beginning of the Christmas season. Every year on the night of December 5th we’d put out our shoes for St. Nicholas, and on the morning of December 6th we’d wake up to shoes full of chocolates, marzipan, and and other small holiday treats.
In fond remembrance of the holiday, I bring you Six to Eight Black Men, by David Sedaris, is perhaps my all-time-favorite commentary on the holiday; you can also listen to Sedaris read this piece in an episode of This American Life as part of one of my all-time favorite episodes, “Them.” (Bonus: “Them” also features Jon Ronson of men-who-stare-at-goats fame reading an excerpt from his book Them: Adventures With Extremists). For anyone who has tried to fathom the holiday celebrations of an unfamiliar culture: this essay is for you.
*dutch for “happy st. nicholas eve”
**Image credit: Susan Seals @ The St. Nicholas Center.
Saskia Tielens said:
Wait, you have Belgian roots? I'm Dutch, and we celebrate it today, on the fifth. I haven't put out my shoe for a long time though..but I did eat a lot of Sinterklaas treats tonight to make up for it!
Awww. This just reminded me that my German grandmother used to always send me presents on St. Nicholas Day. Alas, I'm no longer a child…although I could still go for some marzipan right now!
Also…I love Six to Eight Black Men.
Saint Nicholas night or the night before Saint Nicholas from December 5 to 6 is in Belgium, in the old days it was also in Holland. Now it's in Holland just Saint Nicholas Eve at December 5 and the afternoon before that, it's celebrated at schools ect. Little kids have the day of on December 6 to play with their new toys.
And that holiday has nothing to do with Christmas. That's just on December 24-25-26. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and don't do presents originally.