The kind, beloved 4th. C. Bishop of Myra (Turkey), was revered across Europe for his benevolence and miraculous deeds.
By the year 1100, Nicholas became one of the most revered saints and on Dec. 6, the anniversary of his death, he was honoured by gift giving & feasting. This also was the time when 'supernatural' gift-bringing began, rather than the ritual of children begging for gifts from door to door. St Nicholas would mysteriously enter homes on the Eve of St. Nicholas even through barred windows! Secular assistants to St.Nicholas, such as the 'Dark Helpers' Knecht Ruprecht or Pelznickel often would accompany him.
This practice was discouraged at the end of the 16th century by the Protestant Reformation in Germany when Christkindl became the gift-bringer replacement on Christmas Eve rather than on December 5, St. Nicholas Eve.
Many people of Dutch heritage continue the St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) celebrations to this day with the saint being assisted by Zwarte Piet (BlackPeter).
St. Nicholas: 16" (40.5 cm) - $225
St. Nicholas: 28" (71 cm) - $425 (by order only)
Upon Holland's release from Spanish rule during the 16th century, it seemed politically fitting to the Dutch to have a Moorish servant dressed in Medieval Spanish attire, as a servant of St. Nicholas named Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). He would toss pepernoten (peppernuts) and speculaas (ginger cookies) to the good boys and girls. However, he carried a bundle of switches for the naughty ones, plus a large sack in which to carry them off to Spain! Many people of Dutch heritage, to this day, associate Zwarte Piet with St. Nicholas on Dec. 5th., St. Nicholas Eve.
Zwarte Piet (Black Peter): 16" (40.5 cm) - $225
Zwarte Piet (Black Peter):28" (71 cm) - $425 (by order only)