Thursday, December 20, 2012
Be good for goodness' sake...
Growing up in the U.S., the idea of a kindly, rotund, jolly man who somehow broke into my house every Christmas Eve and left me presents was extremely disconcerting to me... if I'd grown up in Germany, I think I would've needed anti-anxiety medication to get through the Christmas season. I mean, sure, we have the whole, "he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake" thing, but apparently Germany takes their naughty-children-during-the-holidays concept seriously.
In Northern Europe, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6. I think in some places, this is even considered the "big" day for gift-giving, as opposed to Christmas Day. On St. Nicholas Eve, kids put their shoes outside their doors or by the fireplace, and in the morning they're filled with candy or small toys. This is a tradition my high school German teacher tried to show her pupils by asking us to take our shoes off before class one December 5. (Side note: my German "classroom" was actually a little room off the library that was obviously meant to be a storage room or somebody's office... My freshman year of high school, there were only seven of us in the class... by the time I was a senior, there were three of us...) We, being the belligerent teenagers we were, vociferously opposed this order... okay, everyone else vociferously opposed, I silently brooded. But eventually our teacher somehow convinced us to (grudgingly) leave our shoes outside in the library, and while we took a pop quiz or worked on vocabulary lists, she "snuck" outside (in our tiny room this really did not go unnoticed) and filled all of our shoes with candy.
After that, I felt bad that we'd all been protesting the shoe-removal, because obviously our teacher just wanted to surprise us with a fun tradition, and we'd taken a bit of the "fun" out of it by suspiciously demanding to know why our shoes were being confiscated. We probably all should've been hit with Krampus switches, but fortunately, that really IS just a silly story made up to scare children into being extra good...
It IS just a story, right? Right? RIGHT???
Sigh... the Christmas season is SO stressful... :)