Friday, December 5, 2008

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a Little Chocolate Devil

Meet Čert (Chert).

Our language tutor taught us about a rather interesting tradition: Today, being his Name Day, many European countries celebrate Sväty Mikuláš aka Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children. Traditionally, on the eve of December 5th, children would polish and set out out their shoes in anticipation of Saint Nicholas' arrival. That night St. Nick would arrive by horse drawn coach and leave children either a gift or a lump of coal, depending on behavior per annum naturally. This all sounds quite familiar so far (and you thought Santa Claus was an original idea...).

In Slovak days gone by, Sväty Mikuláš was accompanied by Čert, the devil, and an angel. The devil would come rattling chains and dealt with those children whose behavior was lacking over the past year while the angel was for those more well-adjusted kids. Google and Wikipedia have loads of interesting tid bits about this tradition that is rich in history and is still practiced, in different forms, all across Central, Eastern and Northern Europe.

As is the way with most traditions, this one has grown into something different now. Today family and friends will exchange little chocolate Saint Nicholas figures. As you can see there is also the chocolate Čert option if you are wanting to deliver a clear message to a misbehaving kid, but rest assured, the child's therapist will probably here about it one day!


Anonymous said...

Always interesting reading your web page!

Josh said...

That little devil chocolate looks suspiciously like one of the monsters from the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are."