Kleeschen, or St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas Pastries

In Luxembourg, there is no Santa Claus. Instead, Kleeschen, or St. Nicholas, descends from heaven on the evening of December 5th. He visits every child’s house and consults his trusty “Book of Sins.” If the child has been good, he will put sweets into the waiting shoes that the child thoughtfully placed near the fireplace or on a windowsill. If the child has misbehaved, Kleeschen’s sidekick, Hoùseker (Black Peter, who is aptly dressed in coarse, black garb) will fill the waiting shoes with twigs. Variations of Black Peter include Austria’s Krampus and France’s Père Fouettard.

St. Nicholas, the protector of children, first rose to fame in France. There, he rescued three children from an evil butcher who intended to turn them into sausages. The legend varies – in some, the butcher only salted them alive and stuffed them in a barrel, and in others he killed them. Either way, it’s quite a dark story!

Kleeschen starts making his rounds to schools and shops in early December and then marches through the town on December 6th, Feast of St. Nicholas Day, distributing candy to children.

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