Lustig, lustig, tralalalala!
An article from our President Tobias.
December is an exciting time when you are a child, what with end-of-year celebrations, long summer days and, of course, the promise of Christmas presents. But the children at Spielwelt are doubly lucky, because they can expect a visit from not just one, but two jolly men this season!
Spielwelt, which runs German-speaking playgroups, the German Australian Playschool and a German-speaking Scouts group, commemorates every year the good St Nikolaus. Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other German-speaking communities traditionally celebrate the feast of St Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, on the 6th December. But in Canberra, Spielwelt celebrates with delicious Plätzchen (biscuits), Lieder (carols) and a visit from the good Saint himself throughout the week, to make sure no-one misses out.
The hot Canberra summer is a sudden shock from the depths of a European winter for Nikolaus, and to make things worse he doesn’t speak a word of English. But luckily he has landed at the scout hall in Turner, where the fun bilingual programs teach his native tongue to children raised with English and German alike. The children make Nikolaus – complete with bishop’s mitre, cloak and staff – feel immediately at home by singing Lasst uns froh und munter sein (Let us be happy and cheerful), which tells of the upcoming celebration of Nikolaus.
Santa Claus and St Nikolaus share a similar cultural heritage: indeed, the name Santa Claus comes from the Dutch word for St Nicholas, Sinterklaas. It is no surprise then, that Nikolaus brings presents for children who have been good this year. Luckily, all of the Spielwelt children – and their teachers too – have their names written in Nikolaus’ Golden Book this year!
Before they receive their present, the children proudly show off what they have mastered that year. They sing loudly, run quickly, read German poems or dance. Sometimes, Nikolaus shows off what he can do too! He then rewards the proud children with a mandarin and a chocolate.
After a photo and a final song, the good Saint with his bishop’s mitre and staff bids farewell to the children for another year. But there is still one more surprise in store! When they check their shoes, dutifully left by the front door, they find a little chocolate coin left in each pair of shoes.
The Spielwelt German Parents Association runs a variety of fun and supportive programs to develop German language skills for children and young people aged 0 to 26. It also builds a strong community that celebrates the cultures of German-speaking countries. It welcomes children, young people and their families with all levels of German language ability. The programs are centred around the Scout Hall in Haig Park, Turner, and include:
- Spiel und Spass (Play and Fun), a playgroup for children aged 0-5 and their families that meets 9:30-11:30am every Wednesday.
- German Australian Playschool, which offers a play-based educational program for children aged 3-5 during school hours. There is a German immersion class on Mondays and Tuesdays, and a bilingual class on Thursdays and Fridays.
- Pfadfinder, a Scout group for children aged 6-26. The Pfadfinder meet on Monday nights (for young people in high school and above) or Tuesday nights (for primary school aged children), between 6-7:30pm.
“We are welcoming enrolments for 2023 and beyond, and cater for children who are fluent speakers and those who are learning German as a second or third language”, says Spielwelt Committee President Tobias Beckmann.
Nikolaus will visit Spielwelt programs on Tuesday 6 December, Wednesday 7 December and Friday 9 December. The German Australian Playschool is currently taking enrolments for 2023 and beyond; and Spiel und Spass and Pfadfinder always welcome new friends. For more information, see www.spielwelt.org.au, or contact the Director, Katrin, on firstname.lastname@example.org.