Wearing a bishop's vestments with gold embroidered red cape and
miter and carrying his golden crosier, a bishop's staff, in many areas of Germany and Europe an elderly white bearded St. Nicholas
still arrives on the doorsteps of homes where children live, on December 5th St. Nicholas Eve
, and 6th St. Nicholas Day
Together with Knecht Ruprecht
, Servant Ruprecht, his brown clad, hooded and often soot smudged attendant, he also often visits their schools or meets them while they are out and about.
Much excitement, as well as a bit of work, fill the days leading to the St. Nicholas celebrations and the arrival of the Saint in Germany, because winter boots or shoes must be carefully cleaned and polished ready to hold the carrots, apples or hay put into the one each child is allowed to place in front of a door, or perhaps on a window sill, on the evening of 5th December, Nikolaus
'St. Nicholas Eve'.
Because it is then the saint is believed to visit, feed his white horse the contents of the boots and, if the owners have behaved well during the previous year, refill them with candies, often amongst them will be the first letter of their name in chocolate and some Spekulatius
as well as small gifts, all of which are meant to be shared and not just kept for oneself.
However, should they have been somewhat less thangood
, it could be that when they rush to inspect theirNikolaus Stiefel
, Nikolaus boot, in the morning it will be to find only a piece of charcoal or a twig lying there.