Today, 6th December is Saint-Nicolas’ Day in Lorraine, Alsace and the Flanders. If you are not familiar with Saint-Nicolas, let us tell you that he IS the one who distributes presents to Austrian, Belgian, Dutch, German, French and Swiss children today. You think he looks similar to Santa Claus? You’re quite right – in fact, when the Dutch migrated to the United States in the 19th century, they took with them the traditions of Saint Nicolas (Sinterklaas) which gradually evolved into Santa Claus. So here you go, Saint-Nicolas is the mere ancestor of Santa Claus!
The Saint is often depicted as a tall thin man with a long white beard, all dressed up in silk garments, carrying a bishop’s mitre and holding a crosier. A grey donkey helps him carrying baskets filled with biscuits, sweets and gifts. He is the Patron Saint of Lorraine whose people organise large-scale parades in their towns early December, such as in Nancy and Metz. Below you will find a collection of 10 photos that we took in northeastern France (Alsace and Lorraine).
It would be a pity to eat this yummy Saint-Nicolas chocolate!
An effigy of Saint-Nicolas in a shop front in Nancy, Lorraine:
An animated Saint-Nicolas made in paper… which moves and ride his donkey in the lobby of the Nancy Opera House:
Saint-Nicolas visiting a school in a village in Lorraine:
Saint-Nicolas himself on the Cours Léopold in Nancy congratulates a little boy who has been well-behaved for a whole year!
Here is Saint-Nicolas visiting the Christmas Market in Nancy:
Later on that day, Saint-Nicolas appeared at the balcony of the City Hall of Nancy after participating to the great street parade.