Saint Nicholas cookies, a tradition in Italy

A lot of people has bought Saint Nicholas cookies, a tradition in Italy, in the Christmas market or has tried to cook them at home. Not all children wait for the 25th of December 25 to receive gifts for Christmas. In the countries of northern Italy, and in some Nordic countries, such as Holland and Germany, gifts arrive already in the night between 5 and 6 December, the night of Saint Nicholas.  Nicholas is an old man with a long grey beard dressed as a bishop.

Sometimes he leaves the presents at the foot of the fireplace and sometimes out of the threshold where children, in the evening, leave old boots (in Italy also socks) that in the morning they find full of gifts and presents. Saint Nicholas was born in Patara and was a bishop of the city of Myria (Anatolia). He was an orphan and was brought up in a monastery. When he was 17 years old he became the youngest priest of the monastry and even if he inherited little from poor parents, he gave everything to poor children and families who did not own anything.

For reason this figure is linked to protection of the poor, widows and children.

The most famous legend raccontathat he helped three very poor young girls who could not find a man to marry because they were without dowries, so he decided to help them by donating three bags of gold coins, one for each girl.  One night he introduced the first bag through the opened window and did the same with the second bag the next night. The third night, having found the window closed, dropped the bag through the chimney, giving the poor family infinite joy.

In South Tyrol and in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Tyrol and Bavaria, the saint  walk the streets of the town, accompanied by angels and faithful servant, handing out candy and sweets to the villagers but there are also other feature protagonists.

The parade also involves some devils (the Krampus) who, wearing fur and scary masks, chattering to roam the city in search of children “bad.” The ” party of the devils and the visit of St. Nicholas

The cult of St. Nicholas was brought to New York by the Dutch settlers (it is the protector of the city of Amsterdam), under the name of Sinterklaas. This name, then, was translated into British Santa Claus or Klaus and here we are in … Santa Claus!

Traditional foods linked to St. Nicholas

A strange but symbolic devotion that in the cold evening of December 5, wants to put it on to boil the beans. An ancient ritual that commemorates a miraculous event. In the Middle Ages, according to tradition, thanks to the intercession of St. Nicholas of Bari Patron of Pollutri, population, hit by a severe famine, was miraculously saved from a huge amount of boiled beans, appeared suddenly in a big pot.

The Grättimaa is the little man of pan typical sweet.

Then there are the speculoos: cinnamon biscuits typical of Belgium and the Netherlands (where they are called “speculaas”), traditionally prepared for the feast of Saint Nicholas, are now available as a confectionery product at any time of year. And finally the Pepernoten (nuts pepper)

Despite attempts to create alternatives to the Bishop figures bearer of gifts (the Cristkindel, genius of the good, the Peckeresel, donkey or masked the Child Jesus).


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