Nicolaus and Krampuss

Winter festivities are in full swing in Austria. They really know how to do the season full-on.

On Thursday Nicolaus came to visit Annie’s kindergarten. I have to say that Kindervilla does an amazing job of acknowledging and educating the children about each of the traditions and celebrations throughout the year. Annie has even been singing Nicolaus songs for the last couple of weeks

Nicolaus is based, of course, on Saint Nicolas, who was Nicolas of Mynra (270 to 346). Myrna is now a part of Turkey. Here is a bit about the history:

Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercessions, he is also known as Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and is now commonly identified with Santa Claus. Nicholas was never officially canonised; his reputation simply evolved among the faithful, as was the custom in his time.

Annie is usually not really a shy child, just a bit reserved around new people or in larger groups of people at first. However, I had to wake her up from her nap to make it in time, so she was a quite clingy. She sat on my lap instead of with the other children, which wasn’t a big deal.

The room was dark and there was a centerpiece of candles. (Again with the candles and toddlers! These people live on the edge let me tell you.) The children did a great job of keeping quiet in preparation for the visit.

When Nicolaus came in, the kids sang songs they had prepared. Annie didn’t participate in that part, although she was in full force afterwards of course. Here is a shot of the robed saint:

Saint Nicolaus

Saint Nicolaus

After a speech (which I’m afraid I didn’t understand) he started to call the children. The kids were suppose to go up, shake hands with Nicolaus, speak a few words and take their sac filled with oranges, nuts and chocolates. Most kids went up with their parents, and of course I thought that I was going to do this with Annie. Here is what is was supposed to look like:

Random child politely receiving gift from Nicolaus

Random child politely receiving gift from Nicolaus

So I was delighted when Annie got up from my lap when called and looked quite willing to go it on her own. I quickly reached for my camera to get a shot of my perfect child in this wondrous moment. Annie, however, decided to perform the McDonald’s drive-thru version of the ceremony, running up, snatching the sac from Nicolaus’ hand and running back to me. The whole thing took less than 2 seconds. She did get a burst of laughter from the crowd. So much for breaking the images of those rude and pushy North Americans. Oh well. And of course, no picture.

Annie decided to cling to me the whole time, so the only picture I did get of her is this one, where I managed to get her to stand a whole 5 centimeters away from me and look at me for 2 milliseconds:

Oh well, I imagine with those blue eyes she has a long life ahead of her getting away with pretty much anything.

Nicolaus day in actually today, December 6th, in Austria. Yesterday was when the evil side of things was celebrated, Krampuss night. Krampuss is a devil-like character who comes to scare children who have been naughty (and you thought getting coal in your stocking was bad!) Here is a shot of some of the Krampuss masks that people wear. Pretty scary!

I kept Annie away from these characters wearing bells around their waists and banging gongs. I don’t think we need to introduce this nightmare-inducing tradition just yet.

Instead we had an impromptu skate night. Opa and cousin Lily were on the ice on the rink around the corner from the hotel when Annie and I just happened to walk by. I rented skates and Annie borrowed the toddler version which fit over her boots. They are great, as they have 2 blades so are more stable.

Annie actually went around the rink with Opa a couple of time (which caused Lily so much stress she is still pouting about it today…MY Opa). And then after a while Annie actually made it one whole length of the boards by herself with me holding out my hands in case she fell. It cracked me up, as she was sort of scared and whining the whole time, but didn’t want me to help her. She has such a forceful independent streak…I’m in trouble already, I can tell. A big improvement for only her second time on the ice. And I had much more fun than when I was basically hauling her around. The bodes well for a fun ice and snow-filled winter ahead.

One Response to “Nicolaus and Krampuss”

  1. sox says:

    Wow, those Krampuss masks are scary even for me!! Happy Nicolaus Day!