Christmas in Prague is celebrated early when Saint Nicholas, the Angel and Devil all come to life on the 5th of December. This magical day is termed Mikulas or Saint Nicholas day.
The Early Arrival of Christmas
The tradition goes that on the 5th Saint Hubert Medals of December the children gather round the three figures of Saint Nicholas, the Angel, and the Devil as Saint Nicholas asks them if they behaved well during the year. Naturally, most children jump up excitedly and say “Yes!” They’re then asked to sing a song or recite a short poem, which they do with much enthusiasm knowing that they will be rewarded with sweets and other treats.
But if they misbehaved and their Saints Hubert answer is “no” they receive a sack of black coal or hard potatoes! And if they were deemed really bad, they are put into a sack and taken to hell!
This story, told over many generations, scares the local children of Prague enough to almost guarantee good behaviour!
Who was Saints Hubert Nicholas?
There really was a Christian Saint Nicholas. He lived in Greece, just a couple hundred years after the birth of Christ, and Mikulas Day is celebrated in honour of Saint Nicholas and his life.
Saints Hubert became a priest and, later, a Bishop of the early Catholic Church. True to the Christian concept of giving up belongings and following Christ, St. Nicholas gave up all of his worldly goods. He was well known for helping out people in need – especially children.
The practice of hanging up stockings originated with Saint Nicholas. Legend has it that one day, one of the small bags of gold that were thrown into poor households by Saint Nicholas fell into the stocking of a child. News got around and children began hanging their stocking by their chimneys, hoping that St. Nicholas would arrive.
It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the spirit of St. Nicholas’ life evolved into the creation of what we now know as Santa Claus.