Miklavz with children
Miklavz (St. Nicholas) visiting a classroom in Ljubljana
Photo: Mladinsko-Informacijski Center Permission pending

St. Nicholas Day (Miklavz), December 6, is the special day of gift-giving for children. The weeks before are the time for Miklavz fairs or markets.

Virtually every town and village has St. Nicholas celebrations. Events on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, December 5, are rather scary, as St. Nicholas is accompanied by devil-like creatures that who scold children who have misbehaved.

The night before the Feast of St. Nicholas, children put a shoe outside the door, hoping it will be filled with treats of fruit, candies, coins, and small toys. The saint's companion Parkelj, a Krampus-like figure, may leave coal or cinders and switches for naughty children. Or more likely, a mix of both, as most children behave in both good and bad ways.

The feast day itself usually begins with Mass and the priest joins in the later festivities. The choir may sing with the children joining in. St. Nicholas appears, his staff decorated with ribbons and flowers, carrying a big white book with the names of good children. Angels come along to assist in giving gifts and small devils carry chains to frighten naughty children. St. Nicholas reads the children's names from the book, praising their good behavior, and giving the gift an angel hands to him. Then St Nicholas tells the not-so-good children to be better and kinder in the next year, while the small devils jump around, rattling their chains frighteningly. After the children promise to behave in the future, they, too, receive a gift of sweets.

The rest of the day is spent in family activities.

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