St Nicolas, the children’s day on December 6th

December 6th, the day of Saint Nicholas, is traditionally an important day for all children in Luxembourg. The pupils of the basic schools (primary) do not have classes on this day. This is the day when the “Kleeschen” (Saint Nicholas) gives presents to good children. Unfortunately, he is also accompanied by the terrible “Houseker”…

Saint Nicholas, the traditional children’s festival in Luxembourg

The Saint Nicholas Day on December 6th is very much awaited by all children living in Luxembourg .

De Kleeschen LuxembourgIn Luxembourg, the feast of Saint Nicholas is much more important for children than Christmas. On this day, Saint Nicholas or “De Kleeschen” brings gifts and sweets to children.

St. Nicholas Day in primary schools

6 December is a public holiday for children in Luxembourg’s basic schools .

From the end of November, while waiting for Saint Nicholas, the children leave their slippers outside their bedroom door. During the night of December 5 to 6, Saint Nicholas leaves candy or gifts if they have been good. If not, its companion the Houseker leaves twigs in it.

On the eve of St. Nicholas’ Day, the basic schools receive St. Nicholas, the patron saint of schoolchildren. Represented by an old man with a white beard and white hair, dressed in red and white, “de Kleeschen” comes to visit schools and nurseries . Welcomed by the children, he will attend a concert prepared by the children, to which the parents are also invited. The children will sing traditional St. Nicholas songs, the most famous of which is “Leiwe Kleeschen”. After attending the show, Saint Nicholas distributes sweets. Expect your child to leave with a bag full of sweets, gingerbread and the Boxemännchen.
Saint Nicholas is accompanied by the bogeyman “Houseker”. Dressed all in black and carrying a large bag, the Houseker’s mission is to leave the disobedient children twigs of wood instead of candy.

Animations in the cities with the Saint Nicolas processions

St. Nicholas Day also marks the beginning of the Christmas festivities, with the Advent period representing the 4 weeks before the celebrations of the nativity of Christ in the Christian religion.

In Luxembourg City, the St. Nicholas procession leaves the Central Station on the previous Sunday and heads towards the city centre via the Christmas markets before arriving at Place Guillaume II. Cities like Esch-sur Alzette, Dudelange, … or other cities in the Greater Region like Metz or Arlon also organize their Saint Nicolas procession. The children are delighted to follow the Saint Nicholas car and receive sweets.

The legend of Saint Nicholas

St. Nicholas is no match for Santa Claus in the Greater Region. The legend of Saint Nicholas was born from the life of a man who really existed. The reason St. Nicholas wears a mitre and carries a bishop’s crook is because St. Nicholas celebrates Bishop Nicholas of Myra (270-345), who lived in the city of Myra in present-day Turkey. Nowadays, Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of many trades and nations. He was known for helping the poor and protecting children.

The legend of Saint Nicolas tells that 3 children got lost while gleaning in the fields. Frightened, they took refuge in a butcher’s shop. Instead of helping them, he killed the children, cut them into small pieces, and locked them in his saltbox to sell the meat. Saint Nicholas, who was passing by with his donkey, knocked on the butcher’s door and asked for something to eat. The butcher realized that he was discovered and confessed his fault. Saint Nicholas then resurrected the children who were able to find their parents. Since then, Saint Nicholas has been rewarding good and obedient children, while the butcher symbolized by the bogeyman punishes disobedient children.

Saint Nicholas Day takes place during the Advent markets that light up and enliven Luxembourg’s cities in the run-up to Christmas.