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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Germany Series at GermanPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind German holidays and observances. I’m Matt, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 22 - Saint Nicholas.
In this lesson, we will discuss how people celebrate Saint Nicholas Day or “Nikolaustag” in Germany. On December 6, the whole of Germany thinks of St. Nicholas, who is called “Nikolaus” in German. Children wait for this day with great anticipation, as they usually receive gifts on St. Nicholas Day.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
Santa Claus is usually depicted with a long, white beard, red coat, and reindeer. Even though his popularity is immense, he is not a historical figure. How is the case of St. Nicholas different?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
Even before December 6, you can buy Santa Claus chocolate in many stores and give it as gifts to friends or family. Even bakeries remember Santa Claus or Stutenkerle by making Weckmann pastries. A real Santa Claus carries a crosier, a long coat, and a bishop's mitre. There is often a holiday on December 6 in kindergartens or schools to celebrate Nicholas Day, and people also sing on this day. A popular carol, for example, is "let us be happy and cheerful".
Many children keep their boots or shoes in front of the door or hang their stockings on the evening of December 5. When children wake up the next morning, their boots, often referred to as “Nikolausstiefel” are filled with chocolates, nuts, gingerbread, cookies or mandarins. Sometimes they also get small gifts like scarves or hats, which are particularly useful during the cold season.
St. Nicholas visits some families in their houses and asks the children whether they have been good. Sometimes St. Nicholas is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Santa's little helper, who comes to punish children who have been naughty. St. Nicholas reads their good deeds and previous year's academic performance from his golden book. Mostly children recite poems or sing a song in front of St. Nicholas. Afterwards, the children get their gifts.
One of the world's largest cookies was made in celebration of this day. It was two meters high and one meter wide. It was made in Düsseldorf in 2012. The spiced cookie or “Spekulatius” is a traditional pastry that is baked on St. Nicholas Day, and it's made using a wooden mold. Saints or regional motifs are depicted on these pastries.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
How is the case of St. Nicholas different from that of the Santa Claus we know today?
Saint Nicholas was an actual living person. The Bishop Nicholas of Myra was born between 270 and 286 AD and probably died on December 6 in 345 AD. According to legend, St. Nicholas has been revered since the sixth century, as he was good natured, kind-hearted, and especially generous.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting? How do you celebrate Saint Nicholas Day in your country? Leave a comment telling us at GermanPod101.com. Until next time!

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How do you celebrate Saint Nicholas Day in your country?