St. Nicholas Day is an important sales driver for the food industry. But what exactly are we celebrating on December 6? Here are some interesting St. Nicholas facts – and 5 tips for filling a stocking for allergy sufferers.
St. Nicholas Day traces back to Bishop Nicholas of Myra who lived in the 4th century in modern-day Demre, Turkey. Numerous legends surround his good deeds and his commitment to the poor – such as the story of a man who lacked the money to pay the dowry for his three daughters. When St. Nicholas heard of this, he threw a bag of gold down the family’s chimney. To honor St. Nicholas, people began to leave gifts for children on the date of his death, December 6. In the course of the Reformation, St. Nicholas Day became less important and gifts were given on Christmas from then on. In some places, such as Luxembourg and the Netherlands, however, St. Nicholas Day is still more important than Christmas.
St. Nicholas around the world
St. Nicholas traditions vary widely across the world. In Russia and other Eastern European countries, Jack Frost („Djed Moros“) brings the presents in the night of New Year’s Eve, whereas he wears a blue-white suit and is accompanied by his granddaughter. In other countries, St. Nicholas has a terrifying companion, who punishes naughty children – known as „Krampus“ in Austria, „Zwarte Piet“ in the Netherlands, „Père Fouettard“ in France and „Knecht Ruprecht“ in Germany.
Santa Claus, however, has its origin in „Sinterklaas“, as St. Nicholas is called in the Netherlands. Dutch settlers brought the tradition to the USA, where „Sinterklaas“ evolved into „Santa Claus“ and became a well-known figure in songs, poems and paintings. Over the years, Santa developed into the figure as we know him today: a friendly, chubby man with a red coat and a long white beard.
Best allergy-friendly stocking stuffers
Chocolate Santa’s or simple milk chocolates are a good choice for people with nut or gluten intolerance. Dark chocolate is suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
Dried apples, raisins or candied mango slices are a great alternative not only for nut allergy sufferers. If you prefer fruit bars, don’t forget to check the ingredients list.
Jelly babies are available in numerous variations and since they consist mainly of sugar, water, glucose syrup and gelatin, they are suitable for most allergy sufferers. Fruit gum without gelatin is a good option for persons with histamine intolerance. Anyone with fructose intolerance or allergies to certain types of fruit should avoid jellies with fruit juice.
Those who want to play it safe can bake their own cookies. Most recipes can be easily adapted for allergy sufferers – for example you can substitute wheat flour for gluten-free flour, eggs for applesauce or butter for margarine.
With this many sweet treats, don’t forget to add some fresh fruit to the stocking. Mandarins, bananas and grapes are popular and also suitable for persons with stone fruit allergy.