Saint Nicholas Day
Naughty or nice,
on which List
are you? ;-)
A True Krampus Tale
In the rural area of Upper Austria -
where I spent my childhood -
Saint Nicholas visited our house on the
eve of his feast day, and always in company
of at least one Krampus.
I must have been four or five years old,
when I was sure I had recognized a friend of my father's
behind the fearsome Krampus mask. I also figured that
his pelt was really a winter jacket worn inside out and
the chain he was dragging along and rattling noisily
looked like the ones used in cow barns.
He was carrying a large wooden pannier on his back,
just like the one the baker from the next village used
to transport bread.
I don't remember how it started,
but at some point I began to taunt him:
After all, I had been a good girl,
so what was I to be afraid of anyway?
At the end, I challenged him to try to fit me in the pannier
and before I could say anything, was I high up in the air,
lifted into the basket, and out the door we galloped!
I was still giggling when we passed our garden gate and
reached the country road that led towards the village -
we lived outside, amongst fields and meadows -
when all of a sudden I realized I had no shoes and
started begging to please be let go.
Saint Nicholas lifted me at once out of the basket and
onto the icy road and I ran home, with stockinged feet,
through the snowy landscape,
and ran and ran as fast as I could,
all of a sudden sensing danger all around me.
"Traditional celebrations of Saint Nicholas Day
in Northern Europe included gifts left in children's shoes
(the origin of our American Christmas stockings).
Good children receive treats - candies, cookies, apples and nuts,
while naughty children receive switches or lumps of coal.
Sometimes coins were left in the shoes,
reminiscent of the life-saving doweries the saint provided.
Today - especially in families of German extraction -
children still put a shoe outside their bedroom doors
on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, and expect to find
candy and coins or small gifts in their shoe on December 6th.
In some households the father of the family
may dress up as Saint Nicholas on the eve of his feast.
He comes in, sometimes with his sidekick,
Krampus or Black Peter,
and helps each child examine his conscience.
He admonishes the bad and rewards the good."
Quoted from: -> St. Nicholas
On a winter afternoon, the late afternoon sun illuminates
a row if buildings on the opposite side of the street,
their colorful facades reminiscent of houses in Burano in the Venetian Lagoon
The Austrian Federal Chancellery at Ballhausplatz 2:
The address of the highest Austrian administrative power for nearly 300 years. -> Video tour of the Austrian Federal Chancellery, including the room where the Congress of Vienna met from 1814 to 1815, which today hosts the press briefings that take place after cabinet meetings.