Cultural: St. Nicholas holiday - Święta Mikołajki

st. nicholas.jpg

December 6 is the day they call St. Nicholas Day here in Poland.

Traditionally children get a present from their mom and dad on this day.

No, when my kids were small, we didn't celebrate it. I rebelled, figuring I was already spending enough money on my kids for Christmas - we didn't need to add yet another holiday just for the sake of a tradition that wasn't our own.  Besides, we also have 2 December birthdays! 

I saw a lot of people in the stores buying presents. Some will say that they don't give big presents on this day, but I am sure that depends on the family.

 St. Nicholas was a real person who generously gave of his own wealth to the needy.

St. Nicholas was a real person who generously gave of his own wealth to the needy.

 picture from google images

picture from google images

At school, at least in a couple of my kids' elementary school classrooms, we gave some money to a parent who collected it and he/she bought each of the kids a gift that they got to take home on December 6 - all the kids got the same thing. Usually it wasn't very expensive, though - under $5.

I found a you tube video that talks about this holiday. The lady speaks in Polish but it has English translation underneath her talking.  You can check it out here!

Since this holiday was not part of our own family repertoire, I thought I'd find a website that talked about it in more detail for you.  Here is a quote from www.careersinpoland.com

 

In many Polish households, the morning of December 6th, in Polish referred to as Mikołajki, is a blissful moment. This is when children find small gifts under their pillows, in their slippers or (nowadays more and more often) in a stocking carefully hang out for that purpose the evening before. The gifts are usually tiny – small toys or sweets are the most popular option, since bigger presents are still yet to be given on Christmas eve, by the very same person – Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas or Santa Claus. So why does he visit Polish kids twice a year?

In the past it was on the Saint Nicholas feast when the little ones received gifts, and Poles generally did not hand out presents on Christmas Eve. With time, when the Western customs of giving major gifts around Christmas started to reach Poland, it became natural that Mikołajki is just a prelude to bigger celebrations starting on December 24th. In some parts of Poland it is easier to distinguish these two gift-giving occasions, as Saint Nicholas is so tired after his special day, that he is replaced by Angel or Snowflake around Christmas Day. Nonetheless, in general most Polish children get to meet him twice a year. 

Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not, on December 6th it is always thoughtful to give a small gift to your little Polish friend, of course if you have one. In some workplaces it is around this day when co-workers play Secret Santa by drawing a colleague to give a small gift to, or gather for an office Christmas party. Just be jolly and let us know if you have found something special under your pillow this year!  - end of quote

 
 picture taken from google images  Traditionally the children have presents stuck in their shoes which are cleaned up and lined up neatly.

picture taken from google images  Traditionally the children have presents stuck in their shoes which are cleaned up and lined up neatly.

Like I mentioned before, we didn't celebrate this date in our own home.  We already gave our kids advent calendars which had chocolate in them every day, and we had a birthday on Dec. 1 and one on December 20, PLUS 5 kids to buy presents for for Christmas day itself.  So, I was pretty maxed out at that point.  I figured they'd survive.  They did. I'm not sure that they even cared.

But it is a holiday and important to the Polish children!

And now you know!



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