06 December 2010

Dzien Sw. Mikolaj or St. Nickolas Day

Today is December 6th, which is the Feast of St. Nickolas, or Dzien Sw. Mikolaj. 

In Poland, Sw. Mikolaj is not a fat and jolly red clad old man but is much more pious in appearance.  He is typically dressed in clothing similar to a bishop, in purple and gold, a cape, bishop's hat, and carrying a crosier, which indicates his status as a bishop.  He also is said to live in Heaven, not the North Pole.

Traditionally, in Poland, gifts are not exchanged on Christmas Eve or Day, as those days are not meant to be commercialized, but rather days for family, friends, and celebrations for the birth of Christ.  Instead, tonight Sw. Mikolaj visits the children and leaves them presents. 

The tradition varies by family.  Some families will celebrate with a small bag of candies attached to a small birch switch.  The switch is meant to remind the children that they must behave all year long.  If the child is naughty, the following year the birch switch is larger.

But, for the most part, Polish families leave candy for all children, unless of course the child has been particularly naughty and then is given a birch switch only.  Although, I have to say, I have never met or heard of any children receiving a birch switch.

The candy is a modern twist on gifts that were meant to remind children of the gifts given to baby Jesus on his birthday.

For our family, growing up we received candy on Dzien Sw. Mikolaj and also opened up one small present on Christmas Eve, or Wigilia.  Perhaps this is a tradition you may want to celebrate with your family.

If you enjoyed my post explaining the tradition of Dzien Sw. Mikolaj, you might also enjoy my post about our celebration this year of Dzien Sw. Mikolaj http://polishmamaontheprairie.blogspot.com/2010/12/good-morning-sw-mikolaj.html

International Santa Claus ; Polish St. Nicholas Poland

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