One of my favorite things about living in a foreign country is really getting to know the people, food and culture of our host nation. And, let me tell you, the German culture is most vibrant at Christmas time! Markets pop up in every village square, delicious food trucks and homemade gifts abound here in an area where the roots of our modern day Christmas began.
I firmly believe that Christmas is about reflecting on God’s loving plan of redemption in sending His son to live and die for us, that’s primarily why we don’t do Santa, he’s just one more distraction on an already secularized holiday. We have, however, decided to participate in the German holiday of St. Nicholas Day.
For those that don’t know (I didn’t before we moved here!), here’s a great video explaining the origin of Santa Claus:
We use the book The Legend of St. Nicholas and the VeggieTales, Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving movie. Both are great launching points for explaining who St. Nick was to young children and are based on fact.
We had a great time reading the story last night and then they gleefully set their shoes by the fire!
We told them that mommy and daddy would leave small gifts for them in the morning in honor of St. Nicholas. He would often throw coins anonymously in people’s windows or down the chimney, some recounts have the sacks of coins landing in people’s socks that were hung by the fire to dry, hence the modern tradition of Christmas stockings!
Germans often leave the shoes outside on their doorsteps, our landlady asked the kids to leave a pair out so that she could bless them with a small gift as well!
Aurora received: an orange, a traditional German gift, as well as a lebkuchen (spice) cookie that she had been eyeing at the Christmas market, a Kinderegg, a Cat & Canary Flute, an Infinite Spinning Top and a Flipping Frog Wind-up Toy.
Grayson received: an orange, cookie, and Kinderegg as well, and then his little toys were a Pull Back Taxi, Bruno the Bike Riding Bear, and Ambi Chirpy Bird – Two in One Whistle and Bath Toy.
These were all items that I had been planning to put in their stockings on Christmas day, but instead, I think we will just consolidate and cease doing stockings since it seems a bit redundant.
As the kids get older, we plan to tie the tradition of St. Nicholas Day to passing on kindness and generosity to others. As the veggies sing in the movie “I can love because God loved me, I can give because He gave…” We have been blessed, we bless our kids, and we want them to bless others. I would love any recommendations for toddler friendly service projects!
My favorite picture from this morning can be found on my Facebook page as part of the December Photo Project, follow my page to see a new image each day! Anyone is welcome to participate in the DPP, follow the link to sign up for this annual photography tradition!