Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day—December 6

St. Nicholas Day—December 6

In Holland, everyone celebrates the Feast of Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, on the eve of December 6. After dinner, Dutch families hunt for presents, following clues in funny, anonymous poems. They also eat cookies and candies, especially spicy Speculaas, crispy ginger-cookie figures formed in traditional wooden molds.

The life of St. Nicholas is, like the lives of many saints, shrouded in mystery. We know that he was the bishop of Myra in Lycia, part of Asia Minor, during the 4th century. He is credited with saving three sisters from lives of ill repute by throwing bags of gold into their house (some say down the chimney; others say through the window) to provide for their dowries.

In many places in the United States and abroad, children still hang their stockings by the chimney or place their shoes by the window for St. Nicholas to fill them with presents and sweets on the night before his feast day.

See recipe for Speculaas and other sweet gifts from the kitchen.

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