Have you been naughty or nice?
December 6th is Saint Nicholas day in Hungary. Saint Nicholas or Mikulás is similar to Santa Claus in that he is depicted as a jolly, old, white-bearded man in a red coat who travels on a sledge with a big sack full of gifts like chocolate treats, candy and toys. But in Hungary Mikulás arrives on the night of December 5th with his two helpers, a good angel who helps with the presents and a mischievous, devil-like figure, called Krampusz who punishes bad kids. Mikulás is generous with ‘good’ kids, but children who have been ‘naughty’ in the past year also receive a virgács (a bunch of golden twigs).
Mikulás-day is celebrated in homes, schools and day care centers all over Hungary. Traditionally, kids polish their boots and put them in the window or in front of the door on the evening of December 5th. Mikulás secretly fills them with little presents during the night for children to find in the morning.
Originally part of the Christian religion, it’s not known when the Mikulás-day tradition started in Hungary but written documents of the Saint Nicholas day celebrations date back as far as the 18th century. In Hungary, Mikulás only comes for Saint Nicholas day on December 6th. The gift-giver on Christmas is traditionally Jézuska, the Christ Child.
Mikulás is going to visit the Budapest Christmas Market on December 5th (4pm to 7pm) and 6th (2pm to 4 pm) where everyone can meet him in person.