Tomorrow a saint and a handful of devils and angels will visit my kids' classrooms. December 5th is Mikuláš Day. St. Mikuláš will visit all the kids in our local school accompanied by angels and devils. Once it is determined if each child has been naughty or nice, the nice ones will be given candy from the angels and the naughty ones will be carried off to "hell" in the devils' bag. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up!
We Oshmans have been gathering information about Mikuláš Day for well over a year. We've been asking everyone we know what we should expect. Both Czechs and expats alike have shared their experiences with us--always recounting both the silly and fun sides of the tradition (customary candy, costumes, songs, and gifts left by St. Mikuláš on the window ledges of each home), as well as the terrifying-please-mommy-save-me-I-don't-want-to-go-to-hell side of the the holiday.
At our local school the characters will be played by 5th graders who are Zoe's classmates. We've been debating about whether or not to even send the girls to school tomorrow, as the grisly masks the devils wear are sure to terrify them. The girls vacillate between wanting to experience Mikuláš Day and wanting to stay home, under their beds. We did arm them with an appropriate Mikuláš song, so they will have a response for the angel if they are asked for something in exchange for the candy. Zoe has also warned the 5th graders to be nice to her little sisters.
The Mikuláš tradition is kind of like our American Santa tradition on steroids. In America we also talk about being naughty and nice and earning your good Christmas gifts from Santa, rather than getting a lump of coal. We don't have the devil dragging you off to hell part--but the bottom line is the same--be good or else!
As we dissect the Mikuláš tradition and navigate it with our kids (just like we did with Santa a few years ago), we're reminded again that we're all on the naughty list (Romans 3:23) but Jesus Christ--the babe in a manger--has set us free (Galatians 5:1).
For a good time and cultural lesson YouTube "Mikuláš a čert." See? I'm not lying!