Many of the Hungarian customs surrounding Advent and Christmas are a little different from the ones practiced in the North America and I always enjoyed learning about them and doing them, even if some were a bit labor intensive when my three children were growing up. They were also full of wonder and joy!
Santa is Szent Mikulás (Saint Nicholas) and 6 th December is Mikulás Nap (St. Nicholas day).
Today is the feast of St. Nicholas (Miklos or Mikulás in Hungarian) and during the night he comes (in legend in a horse drawn carriage) with an angel who gives gifts of fruit and candy to the good little children and the Krampusz (Krumpooss) a dark and ugly goblin who gives coal and switches to the bad ones. Mikulás has a book which tells him who’s been naughty and who nice. In Hungarian scouting there was the traditional Mikulás sitting on his Bishop’s throne, dressed in a mitre and the robes of a bishop holding the book in hand. Beforehand the parents were telephoned to give secret information about what to write in the book. Usually it was along the lines of (“I hear you have been a very good boy (or girl) and worked hard in school this year and listened to your mother and father well, but I think you need to work more at getting along with your brother (or sister”).
At home the children put their shoes out the night before, as Dutch children do, and children in many other European countries, and find surprises in them the next morning……..Nathan and Stephen found Star Wars Lightsabers filled with M&Ms and Reeses peanut butter cups. Alice took this picture. I wish I had been there to hear Nathan explaining what this was to his little brother, who may not have really understood much more than “shoes” and “candy”, but that was enough!
I’m sharing Alice’s photo of Stephen’s delicious discovery.
This Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent, they are coming over to my house for singing Advent and Christmas carols and a tea afterward. I’m so looking forward to it, and this will spur me on to finish my Christmas decorating!