Saint Nicholas Day (Mikuláš)

St. Nicholas and the DevilThe charming tradition of St. Nicholas falls on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, December 5th. If you find yourself walking the streets on that evening, you may run into a group of strange characters: St. Nicholas (Mikuláš), the Angel (anděl) who represents the Good, and the Devil (čert) representing the Evil. All wear costumes. Mikuláš looks a bit like Santa Claus whose origin was supposedly inspired by St. Nicholas. All three characters walk the streets, stopping children and asking them if they were good in the past year. Most kids say yes and sing a song or recite a short poem. They are then rewarded with sweets,  candy or other treats, which are handed out by the Angel. Bad kids would be put in the Devil's sack and taken to hell, or would only get a sack of potatoes or coal instead of candy - of course it does not really happen!

St. Nicholas Tradition in PragueThe eve of St. Nicholas is especially fun in Prague. Parents bring their children to the Old Town Square where you can witness the tradition roughly between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. In small towns and villages, the three characters visit people's homes. The evening of December 5 is an exciting (and scary) time for children! Children also receive St. Nicholas presents from their parents and relatives. The gift, e.g. sweets and chocolates, can be put into a stocking and hidden somewhere in the child's room. The St. Nicholas tradition is supposedly based on a 4th century Greek bishop named Nicholas who is said to have left a gift of money on the windowsill of three poor girls to enable them to get married.