Cracking the Whip for St. Nicholas

Lenzburg, Switzerland

A long time ago, it is said, St. Nicholas lived in a cave in the Goffersberg, a neolithic cemetery above Lenzburg, Switzerland. Once a year he would come out of the cave and walk down the many steps to Lenzburg. There he would distribute presents to all the people.

However, one day, while St. Nicholas was in Lenzburg, some mischievous children spread peas on the steps coming down from the cave. When St. Nicholas finished giving gifts—and making people happy—he began to climb back up to his cave. Not seeing in the dark, he slipped on the peas and fell down the steps.

Angry at being hurt, St. Nicholas climbed back up, slammed his door and vowed he'd never visit Lenzburg again.

The children were sorry for what they had done and wanted to ask St. Nicholas for forgiveness. However, they couldn't find the entrance to his cave. So, to get his attention and draw him out, they grabbed their whips to make as much noise as they could.

In the Swiss towns of Lenzburg, Buttisholz and Möiken, they still do it every December, hoping St. Nicholas will once again bring gifts to the townspeople.

Photos from Aargau Tourismus, video from SwissInfoVideos.

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