On December 5th children in Hungary carefully polish their best boot and put it on the windowsill or in front of the door to be filled by St. Nicholas, Szent Mikulás or Miklós, sometime during the night. The good bishop comes with a big sack full of presents and a large record book with children's good and bad deeds. He used to come with two helpers: a good angel who helps give out presents and a bad Krampus devil who makes mischief. Now it seems mostly to be the Krampusz.
In the night Szent Mikulás secretly leaves little bags filled with candies, tangerines, oranges, walnuts, apples, chocolate Mikulás figures, peanuts, and small presents for children to find in the morning. Naughty children find twigs painted gold or a wooden spoon. Most children get some of each as no one is all good or all bad.
Even adults may participate, though they no longer seem to polish their shoes.
Mikulás-day is also celebrated in schools and day care centers. Children sing Mikulás songs and individual children may say poems and sing songs, as well. St. Nicholas calls them by name and has a personal message for each child. He may stay to play or watch a movie with the children.
Szent Mikulás visits a Budapest school
Photo: Krisztina Lukách Used by permission
In the cities Bishop Mikulás is getting more confused with Santa; it is common to see Santa-type figures with bishop's croziers. Still he comes for his day, December 6th, and is gone before Christmas.
St Nicholas Center Collection