St. Nicholas Cookie Boards
The Story of St. Nicholas
December 1 – January 31, 2018
One story tells of a poor man who had three unmarried daughters. They would have to be sold into slavery because there was no money for the dowries necessary for them to be married. When Nicholas learned of this, he secretly tossed a small pouch of gold into the house so the father could provide the eldest with a dowry. He did this again two more times–once for each daughter. Some say the gold landed in stockings left to dry before the fire, others that it landed in shoes. This is why today some children hang up stockings and others in Europe put out shoes; all are hoping for small gifts.
As stories and legends of good St. Nicholas spread throughout the world, he became the most popular saint and gift-giver. In much of Europe he still visits children on his feast day, December 6th. Many immigrants brought him to North America where he became transformed into our “Santa Claus.” By his care for the most vulnerable, especially children, St. Nicholas lives on as a model for living.
Cookies & St. Nicholas
Ginger spiced cookies are an important part of the feast of Saint Nicholas in Belgium, the Netherlands, and other places, too. These cookies, made to look like St. Nicholas, are special treats for children and adults alike. Beautiful, detailed hand carved wooden molds called “cookie boards” are used to shape the cookies. The dough is pressed into the mold, then the board is banged over the cookie sheet to release the molded cookie.
The cookies are called speculaas in the Netherlands which means a mirror image, such as is made from the mold. They are speculoos in Belgium and speculatius in Germany.