Mikołajki ( Saint Nicholas’ Day) in Poland – What On Earth and Why in the First Place?

As the 6th of December is approaching, I’m sure many of you have noticed an increased parental rush in toy shops. You might think that they are all shopping for Christmas presents. Well, maybe a bunch of them are, but the majority now is shopping for presents for Mikołajki first.

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What is Mikołajki?

Mikołajki is Saint Nicholas’ Day. In Poland it’s celebrated on the 6th of December and it commemorates Nikolaos of Myra. You can read about Saint Nicholas here Saint Nicholas .

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But shortly speaking, Nikoloas of Myra was a very good man, religious and generous. He was known to have inherited a lot of wealth and he gave it all out to those in need, anonymously. In year 300 he became Bishop of Myra. He died on the 6th of December and that is why on this day it’s Saint Nicholas’ Day. This day is also celebrated in other countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia and many others so it’s not just a polish tradition.

Later on, in the 1930s’ Europe took over America’s image of St Nicholas and since then, he is usually known as Santa Claus, a happy chappy with a long white beard.

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In Poland, on this day, children usually receive presents. The tradition of sharing gifts on this day comes from texts found in the 18th century – children used to receive sweets, fruit and nuts from Saint Nicholas. The tradition of sweets and fruit lasted a long time but recently parents started going over the top and get some very expensive gifts for their loved ones, unfortunately and in my opinion, very unnecessarily. Presents are usually placed in a sock, under the pillow or in a shoe the night before Saint Nicholas’ Day. Some schools or even workplaces tend to organize Mikołajki where you draw a person’s name in order to buy him or her an anonymous present. Some companies give out little gifts to their employees’ children too or organize an afternoon with a Santa Claus who gives presents to the kids.

Naughty children usually receive a little twig …

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You’ll see Santa everywhere, to the point of feeling stalked actually. You’ll meet a Santa Claus in every shopping mall, on the streets, in children’s indoor playgrounds and you can even order a Santa to your house to bring presents for your children.

Like most traditions, this one became commercial too but it’s still all up to you how you explain it to your children so that it doesn’t lose its magic touch….

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