After having waited for weeks, the long expected day arrived at last! The suspense is almost unbearable for children, even for children who know “the Secret” of St. Nicolas. It is not strange that sometimes 9-10 year old children still believe that St. Nicolas is really bringing the presents: national television goes to extremes, making whole programs and special news reports with good actors and complicated scripts to build up the suspense. When the news reports on tv follow the basic outlines of the real news reports, children do believe that what they see is really real! This celebration is a whole national conspiracy! The suspense of waiting builds up gradually during the three weeks that St. Nicolas is in the country; children can put their shoe in front of the fireplace or the window, they put a carrot or some hay in the shoe and a bowl with water next to it (for the saint’s horse!) and they have to sing several songs as best as they can, hoping to find a little present in their shoe in the morning… This is repeated every weekend, sometimes twice or three times a week! No wonder that the children can’t sleep from the anticipation.
When the day finally arrived, the one hour drive to our relatives’ house seemed like ages, the waiting there again seemed too long and at last somebody called out: ‘Oh come and look! He brought us presents!’ The few moments needed to bring the presents inside seemed like hours of waiting to the children. By the way, here, people don’t give presents to each other at Christmas; they do it at St. Nicolas day. But they do it anonymously: it is the Saint who brings the presents (and writes poems related to the presents most of the times!) I think it is a wonderful way of making the act of giving much more important than the person who gives!
It is now three days since St. Nicolas left from Holland again, but the magic of this fairy-tale-like period still lingers…
Until next time!