Sankt Nikolaus has been seen at GAP this week already, and will return on Friday for the Thurs/Fri class. As always, it is charming to have him visit. (The photo above was taken with that same Nikolaus at the GAP in 2008!)
Nikolaus is once again giving out traditional Christmas oranges, together with Christmas stickers and a little chocolate. The kind saint has obviously got a good connection with the German Embassy as their logo is on the little packets of German gummy bears he has been leaving in the children’s shoes!
Why not toys? Why oranges? you might ask. Well, apart from the fact that our children live such wonderfully privileged lives in Canberra and receive what many would consider to be far too many material objects and toys already; and putting aside the fact that many plastic toys eventually just contribute to landfill or end up in the Pacific Garbage Patch …. oranges and Sankt Nikolaus are a long-standing German tradition.
According to the legend, Sankt Nikolaus once heard of a family so poor they were planning to sell one of their children into slavery. Saint Nikolaus visited the family at night, and wanting to leave money anonymously for them, he dropped three golden balls down their chimney. These landed in one of the children’s socks which had been hung near the chimney overnight to dry. And so the tradition started.
In times since, oranges have been used to represent the golden balls given by Sankt Nikolaus. Oranges were rare and precious in those days.
In a more recent example, one of our GAP parents who grew up in East Germany remembers that oranges were still considered a luxury when she was a child, and that to receive one at Christmas was a very special treat.
So the children are not getting “just oranges” – they are sharing a legend, a tradition, and some great German culture. Sankt Nikolaus mentioned to the children today that they were also getting vitamin C from their oranges, and one of the children corrected him: Oranges start with vitamin O!
A huge thanks to our Oktoberfest organising team: Gerda, Gerald, Christian and Uli! Many thanks also go to those who brought food to share, helped set up, prepared foods, washed dishes, and helped tidy up afterwards.
The crowds enjoyed good company, enjoyable music, and great German foods (the Wurst, pretzels and salads were terrific, the cakes and strudel were superb, and many folk reported that the Spanferkel was delicious).
Children played some fun German games, the entertained themselves playing on the scouts’ rope bridge and riding plenty of bikes and scooters. It was lovely to see children of all ages running about in the park having a grand time while their parents socialised.
A plethora of colourful Dirndls, traditional Lederhosen, felt hats from various regions of Germany, and of course Biersteine, added to the festive atmosphere.
The after-party carried on until 10pm, for those whose children were old enough for such a late night. There was plenty of laughter coming from around the Lagerfeuer – a good night was had by all.