圣尼古拉节 St. Nicolas Day

December 6th is St. Nicolas (Heiliger Nikolaus) Day, which I knew nothing about until the International Club invited my family to a celebration on December 3rd at Humboldt-Guesthouse. The invitation email came from the Welcome Center, saying:

this email is directed at those among our guest scholars who have children.

On December 6th, the catholic church commemorates the life of St. Nicholas of Myrna (in what is now Turkey). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as 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 thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose English name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas.

In modern Germany, the Nikolaus-celebration is an occasion on which children receive presents. Normally the gifts are placed in the children´s shoes and found on the 6th in the morning. Sometimes a parent, playing Nikolaus and dressed in a red coat and with a white beard, arrives at the kindergarden and distributes the gifts. Here the distinction between Nikolaus and Santa Claus is confused.

I brought my wife and my son to the celebration. There were many kids there, from many countries. It was really an international party. Candies and tea were on the tables, which made my son happy. The president of International Club, Frau Simper, gave us a warm welcome. Children started to play musical instruments and sing a song together. It sounded like a fairy-tale atmosphere. After a short break, Nicolas came in, wearing red clothes, with a big bag on his back. Children cheered. Nicolas put down his bag, and sat in a chair. Children were looking at him for the gifts. He called children’s names one by one, and they got their gifts, even babies younger than 1 year old! My son did not like his gift, but he was happy. He clapped and sang with other children, but no one knew what he sang!

12月6日,在德国是圣尼古拉节。
(参看:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas,http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-cn/%E5%9C%A3%E5%B0%BC%E5%8F%A4%E6%8B%89,http://www.stnicholascenter.org,http://www.nikolaus-von-myra.de/)

之所以说“在德国”,是因为德语课的老师说这个节来自土耳其,一路影响过去,到了德国,停住不往前走了。老师同时告诉我们,圣尼古拉的遗骨在意大利,意大利语称作Nicola,我恍然大悟为什么中文翻译成了“尼古拉”,而不是“尼克劳斯”之类的。

提前一周,学校的国际俱乐部就发了邀请函过来,邀请有小孩的外国家庭参加12月3日的庆祝,并有礼物送给孩子。国际俱乐部已经举行了很多次活动,我们都没有参加过,这次一定要参加。

当天下午四点,天已经渐渐黑了。我们走进洪堡活动厅,国际俱乐部的主管正要开始致辞,我们就找个角落悄悄坐下了。

活动厅摆着两排桌椅,桌子上摆满了糖果、茶水和玩具。这的确是个孩子的节日。在场的有几十个各种肤色的小孩,年龄从几个月到几岁,可以想象该有多么热闹。致辞结束后,几个大点的孩子一边演奏乐器,一边唱歌,每人座位上都事先准备好了一份印刷精美的歌谱,在场的很多大人小孩跟着一起唱,我们很快融在了暖暖的和声气氛中。

短暂休息之后,圣尼古拉在一片期待中推门而入!

孩子们欢呼起来,兜兜也跟着鼓掌。只见圣尼古拉穿红衣,戴红帽,背着一个大口袋,跟圣诞老人没有什么两样。这位1700年前的主教,以悄悄赠送人们礼物而闻名,从而成为圣诞老人的原型。他绕场走了一圈,嘴里自言自语,然后就在两排桌子之间空地上的椅子上坐下,开始给孩子们发礼物。他手里拿着个名单(我们在入场的时候写上了孩子的名字和年龄),挨个儿叫名字,小孩就三个一群两个一伙儿地上去。不禁要赞一个,从这个举动中,我感到了一种对每个孩子的尊重。

兜兜得到的礼物是个毛绒老鼠,显然不合兜兜的胃口,不过并不影响他的情绪。圣尼古拉发完礼物跟大家道别后,孩子们又开始唱歌,兜兜也跟着大声地唱,不成曲调,口齿不清,不过很开心。

大家互道圣诞快乐明年再见之后,庆祝会结束了。我们拉着兜兜走回了家,他却不想进门,还没有玩够呢。

圣尼古拉赠送礼物

圣尼古拉节上的兜兜

孩子们欢唱的歌曲

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