Why is Saint Nicolas Celebrated in a part of France?

According to tradition, the mayor of Nancy hands over the keys to the city to Saint-Nicolas, thus announcing the start of the end-of-year festivities and the celebration of the winter solstice.

In Meurthe-et-Moselle, this great parade is awaited as much by children as by adults. The patron saint is the star of the parade and guides the procession. It is accompanied by original floats specially made for the occasion by hundreds of volunteers. Troops of artists ensure the animation of the festivities, and we find characters who also contributed to making its legend: the bogeyman and the child-killing butcher.

The tradition of Saint Nicholas dates back to the Middle Ages and continues to be honored in the countries of Northern and Eastern Europe. In France, it is celebrated mainly in the north and east (Alsace, Lorraine, Franche-Comté, Ardennes). It is said that the saint is responsible for punishing badly brought-up children and rewarding good children.

Who is this Saint Nicolas?

Nicolas de Myre, better known as Saint-Nicolas, is the patron saint of Lorraine, but also of good children, sailors, pilgrims, and traders. He was born around 270 in what is now southwestern Turkey. Orphaned at a young age, the story of his good behavior spread almost everywhere in the Christian world. All his life, he gave to the poor, the widows, and the destitute, a large part of the fortune inherited from his family. He died on December 6, 331 in the city of Myre.

He was canonized by the Church, so he is a holy figure in the Orthodox religion. He would have obtained from the Emperor Constantine a reduction in taxes by pleading the cause of the inhabitants of Myra in Constantinople. After his death, his relics are considered miraculous because they produce the “manna of Saint Nicholas”, a miraculous oil. Still marketed today, it is supposed to cure the sick. This post-mortem miracle contributed greatly to spreading the cult of Saint Nicholas in the ortho religion

Where can this tradition be found in Europe?

In Greece, Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, while in Luxembourg children even receive more gifts on December 6 than for Christmas. The tradition of Saint Nicholas is embedded in the customs and cultures of different countries with Christian roots. Saint-Nicolas is considered the ancestor of Santa Claus, he even inspired the famous brand of Coca-Cola soda for a mythical advertising campaign. In 1931, the illustrator Haddon Sundblom then dressed it in the colors of the famous bottle, red and white, even if it already appeared in these colors before the association with the firm.

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