This is part of my Christmas Memory Challenge, a goal I set for myself to recall 25 things I love about Christmas. You can also check out Shannon's memories here.
I know I said these memories were about remembering the non-gift giving parts of the holidays, but I kind of lied. Eleven years ago, I was attending university in Freiburg, Germany when my boyfriend's parents and sister surprised me with a visit. They arrived on December 6th because it was St. Nicholas Day and they wanted to make sure I got my gifts.
The first time I heard about St. Nicholas Day was in my first year of French class. In many European cultures, that's actually the day that St. Nick delivers presents with Christmas being more about family gifts. My gifts from Samichlaus (the Swiss name for Santa Claus) that year were lebuchen with a picture of the village, the best damn chocolates in the world (also from the village)*, and a Swiss calendar.
This started a tradition in my life. If I want to surprise someone for the Christmas season, I do it on December 6th. When I snuck into my office after hours to put up Christmas decorations without telling anyone, I did it in the evening of the fifth so it was a surprise when everyone walked in on the sixth. When I brought homemade cookies to my favourite coffee shop, I did it on the sixth.
So happy St. Nicholas Day! Now go surprise someone with a little treat!
*If you ever go to Switzerland, please let me know. I will give you money and explicit instructions as to how to procure the best damn chocolates in the world in exchange for you bringing some of them back to me.