What is Christmas about?

by Jacob van Olffen, Paige Garcia and Stephanie Brown of 6i | 18 Dec 2020


This article starts with a man called Saint Nicholas (who was a very real person in real life). Saint Nicholas was born circa 280 in Patara, Lycia, (modern day turkey). His parents died when he was a young man, and he used his inheritance to help the sick and poor, as a devout Christian. He later served as the bishop of Myra (present day Demre) and used his power to help more people. Saint Nicholas isn’t immortal though and on December 6, 343, he died. Which has become the day we use to celebrate his accomplishments we remember him by. His legacy lived on, and over time he became associated with gift-giving and protecting young children, eventually leading to him become the Santa Claus we know today. He was a popular saint in Europe until the time of the Reformation in the 1500s, when a religious movement, that led to the creation of Protestantism, turned away from the practice of honoring saints. Saint Nicholas, however, stayed an important figure in Germany, Holland and other surrounding countries. - Jacob Van Olffen



As popular as Saint Nikolaus is, have you ever wondered what Christmas (in general) is like in Germany? Their festive season starts on the first Sunday of Advent. For example, in 2020, the four Advent Sundays are the twenty-ninth of November, then the sixth of December, the thirteenth of December and the twentieth of December. On each day, they light a candle on an Advent wreath, which is a wreath usually with four red candles, one for each Advent Sunday. On the sixth of December, children celebrate Nikolaustag, which is when Saint Nikolaus, the German version of Santa Claus, visits the homes of children with his helper Knecht Ruprecht. If the children were good, Saint Nikolaus would give them small gifts and if they were bad, Knecht Ruprecht would scold them. Another tradition in Germany is the Christmas Markets or Christkindlmarkt. They start from the beginning of December and end on Christmas Eve. During these Christmas Markets, traditional German delicatessens are sold, such as Christmas Stollen, which is a special Christmas cake with candied fruit, 'Lebkuchen' hearts, which are gingerbread hearts, hot and sticky roasted almonds, and other attractions can be found there like the Nativity Scene, Zwetschgenmännle, which are figures made from dried plums, and nutcrackers.

- Paige Garcia



Finally, do you remember when we were all back at school? That excited feeling of Saint Nikolaus walking through that door with his golden book and that stomach churning feeling when Knecht followed him soon after through that door (always feel like Knecht would be putting you in his sack?)? Totally haven’t felt that feeling before! And that moment you light the last advent candle? You always get that happy feeling like you’re free from school, even though your mother and father keep asking you every day during the break “When is School starting”, “Are you prepared for school” and they always give you that death stare even though there is like 12 days left on the break. Let's be honest we’ve all felt that feeling. Sadly, with this wretched virus going around It will be harder to feel those warm feeling school would give you. Instead, remember our Christmas booths, the cookies! Come on man those cookies were godly! And don’t forget those warm hot chocolates we had at the Christmas booths. What I’m trying to say here is the school tried hard to make us happy on those Christmas days and I hope we can all have a wonderful Christmas this year, regardless of Covid-19 and Online School.

- Stephanie Brown

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German European School Manila

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