Saturday, December 6, 2008

Happy St. Nikolaus Day!

(Ray's Arful Rendition of St. Nikolaus and Krampus)

It’s not that Ray thought I was lying, exactly. He was just used to my adorable bouts of hyperbole, so he thought I was putting a little soupçon of fibbery onto a run-of-the-mill childhood tale. How on earth could German Santa be so different from our jolly American Santa? I was describing a nightmarish wraith. Who may or may not bring chocolate. But could just as easily bring coal and a switch. Maybe even beat you with the aforementioned paraphernalia. And his traveling companion is pretty much a slimy demon, give or take a horn or two. 

So I took Ray to see my family in Germany on December 6th.  To show him I wasn’t exaggerating. Watching the kids huddled together at my cousin’s house in the early evening, waiting in terror-laced anticipation, Ray got the gist of the horror show to come. Because  in Ober-Bayern, the deepest depths of Bavaria,   St. Nikolaus graces us with his unsightly presence, skulking into our homes dragging along his mangy helper, Krampus, to scare the bejebus out of everyone. And that evening he didn’t disappoint. Not by a long shot. Threatening youngsters with unspeakable punishments if they continued to shirk their household chores.   Promising memorable beatings in the event they spoke back to their parents.  We spent a companionable hour with our local Saint as he spread fear and menace among the young folk of my cousin's little village.  And then we all got candy.

Oh, St. Nikolaus Day. It’s my favorite holiday. Combining the potential wrath of God with chocolate is a lovely way to start the giving season.

And so I bid you all a Happy St. Nikolaus Day! Hey, don’t fret. If you’ve been a good soul, you’ve got nothing to worry about. You have been good, haven't you?