As every Polish child knows, 6th December – aka ‘Mikolajki’ (comes from the name of St Nikolas, or Santa :)) is a special day in the run up to Christmas.
It’s the day when Santa pops into the house and leaves a little gift for the kids under the pillow as an ‘aperitif’ to the bigger celebrations of Christmas Eve (the main day of Christmas celebrations in Poland).
That’s of course if you’ve been good. :) (yep, it’s very fair with Santa!) If you’ve been bad, you might find a ‘rozga’ – a twig/branch/piece of wood…. (ie. not the nicest present in the world :)) under your pillow instead.
So the key is to be good, and when you wake up on the morning of the 6th December, you’ll find a lovely gift waiting for you.
I remember this very well from my childhood, most of the time I couldn’t sleep all night and kept checking the pillow (you never know, you might catch Santa out!). I finally fell asleep at some point in the night, upset that nothing had appeared under the pillow and that Santa had forgotten. :( But then, alas, once, when I woke up in the morning, the present wasn’t under my pillow (yep, I still freaked out at this point!) but under my bed – as it was a kids xylophone and i guess it would have made for a very hard pillow (and was probably difficult to get it under my head by Mrs Santa…. aka MUM!).
So the Mikolajki tradition is still celebrated around Poland and a favourite with the kids as a nice start to the festive season.
Apparently this year, some cities such as Wroclaw are also passing on the festive cheer tradition onto commuters, as those who skip fares on the public transport will not be fined on this day…. instead the conductors will be busy giving out sweets and showing people how to use the new ticket machines! Think we should write to Boris Johnson and ask for a similar tradition in London! ;)
Actually, saying that, where’s my gift???