An old legend tells that in famine periods young men of the small villages dressed up with animal furs, feathers and horns. Unrecognisable thanks to the dreadful disguise, they scared and attacked wayfarers and near farms with the intention of stealing supplies and stocks for the incipient winter. Later, they realized there was an impostor in the group: that was the Devil itself!
Therefore, the youngsters sent for the abbot Nicholas, which exorcized the demon.
Another story recounts that Saint Nicholas, protector of the children, gave as a gift to three very poor and hungry kids three apples. At night, the apples became of pure gold.
These could be the origins of today’s Sankt Nikolaus celebrations, a custom loved by little ones and always remembered by adults. Today, at dusk, the Saint will go through the villages during a cortège, giving away candies, citrus and dried fruit. In addition, horrific Krampuses, playing with fire and whips and handing out sugar charcoal, will attend him.
Could you imagine the thrill and the excitement on the face of children taking part to the celebration?
They will be scared by the frightening and furry demons, but at the same time happy to receive gifts and sweets. Perfect emotions to represent the never-ending struggle between good and bad, light and darkness, summer and winter.
Did you know?
Grandmas and godmothers give their little grand-and godchildren a red bag full containing traditional gingerbread cookies or chocolates representing the Saint and the Krampus, fruit and a tip.
Here the one I prepared this year for my godchild Nicolò:
Legend, imagination and tradition do mix in this involving celebration!