My Romanian Diary Day 36: St. Nicholas Day

gheteDear diary,

It is St. Nicholas day today. St. Nick brings presents to the kids that were good all year round and that cleaned their shoes last night, before going to bed, because St. Nick’s leaves the presents in kids’ shoes. The naughty kids get a rod as a gift and as a kind of punishment.

It is a nice tradition and a kind of foreplay for Christmas. St. Nick’s presents are mostly symbolic: sweets, pajamas, socks etc. The Coca Cola Santa brings the hot stuff, on Christmas Eve.

Legend says St. Nicholas 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 modern name comes from the Dutch Sinteerklass, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of  “Saint Nikolaos”.

The nowadays Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, joyous, white-bearded man – sometimes with spectacles – wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots (images of him rarely have a beard with no moustache). This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of Clement Clarke Moore ‘s 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, children’s books and films. 




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