Top 10 Photos of Saint-Nicolas in all his glory

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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).

Saint-Nicolas gingerbread such as this one are found in any shop and supermarket in 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:

The shop front of a bakery (boulangerie) in Nancy, Lorraine with Saint-Nicolas, gingerbread and kugelhopfs:

An animated Saint-Nicolas made in paper… which moves and ride his donkey in the lobby of the Nancy Opera House:

A statue of Saint-Nicolas at the Mulhouse Christmas Market in Alsace … beware Hans Trapp (the bogeyman) on the right!

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.

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Find out more about the legends of Saint-Nicolas, Santa Claus in France, and the celebrations of La Saint-Nicolas in Nancy.

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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