Briefly explained nicholas

St. Nicholas is a figure of light. Already during lifetime the particularly generous saint is to have been miracle-working. The sixth of December is his day. In the meantime, however, Santa Claus has fallen upon us.

The Basilica St. The Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari, southern Italy, was dedicated to St. Nicholas in 1087. To this day, the mortal remains of the Bishop of Myra are venerated there.

St. Nicholas Day is the 6. December

St. Nicholas Day is today the 6. December. He was first mentioned in writing on the marble calendar in the church of San Giovanni Maggiore in Naples. From there, the custom of St. Nicholas as the bearer of gifts was able to spread into the 11th century. In the nineteenth century spread throughout Europe. Especially Italy appreciated the holy man. Here, in 1087, the first church was built to St. St. Nicholas consecrated – St. St. Nicholas in Bari. The bones of the Bishop of Myra are venerated here to this day. Italian merchants and knights had stolen them from Myra and brought them to Apulia.

Popular saint

Although his exact identity is not yet clear, Nicholas is one of the most popular saints. He is particularly revered in the Eastern Church. Icons adorn his image. Many tsars of the Russian Empire bore his name.

In the past, St. Nicholas brought Christmas presents to the children. So the gifts were given on 6. December and not, as is customary today, on the 24th.

Not only the bringer of gifts, but also the patron saint of skippers and raftsmen

In St. Nicholas’ churches, the saint is also venerated as the patron saint of boatmen. This goes back to the legend that Nicholas procured grain for the poor, which was loaded on ships. St. Nicholas’ churches are therefore preferably found near rivers and lakes, for example along the Inn and the Salzach rivers.


In the countryside it used to be customary for St. Nicholas to bring the Christmas presents. Bescherung thus took place on 6., not on 24. December instead of. When "St. Nicholas comes" he is dressed like a bishop, with white surplice, smoked cloak, miter and crozier. From his golden book he reads good and bad, admonishes the children or also praises them. Then he takes out of his bag sweets, gingerbread, apples and nuts and distributes them. If he is not present in person, you can find something in shoes, bowls or plates that must be placed in front of the door the night before.

St. Nicholas and his helper: the sinister Knecht Ruprecht, Krampus or Klaubauf, who collects lost souls and takes them to hell, is said to frighten children.

Dark companions

Often St. Nicholas does not carry the sack himself, but has a helper for this purpose. This instills fear and terror by his figure already at the sight. The figures are called Knecht Ruprecht, Krampus, Pelzmartel, Klaubauf or Butz, depending on the region, and symbolize darkness and evil. Often carry a chain with them to show that, like Lucifer, they are chained in hell and damned forever. When they carry humpback baskets, it is to collect and take away the fallen souls. A terrible idea!

Santa Claus

If you want to give away a real bishop made of chocolate on St. Nicholas Day, it’s hard to do so. The commercialization of St. Nicholas has given rise to the fantasy figure of Santa Claus and almost completely displaced him. What remains is a gift-bringer similar in scale and scope to his gifts.

The fantasy figure of Santa Claus has almost completely displaced Santa Claus.

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