Saint Nicholas Day has arrived, and with it the beginning of our family’s Jule season.
Tradition says that on Saint Nicholas Day the Julenisse arrives, riding the Julebukk, to distribute presents to the children of the household. The Julebukk and the Julenisse are echoes of ancient traditions, probably in existence at least in part long before stories about the sainted Bishop Nicholas of Myra shaped holiday gift giving among Christians in Europe.
Our household nisse has always been very modest, permitting the bukk to be visible for the whole Jule season but keeping himself secret, bringing only very small gifts which he hides on each person’s chair at the dinner table before the evening meal on Saint Nicholas Day. This is a quiet celebration, a small link to our family’s history which is not affected by the anticipation and excitement, and commercialization, that builds toward the better-known event just 19 days later.
And now it is Saint Nicholas Day, and on this day the Julebukk first appears in our house
followed shortly by an assortment of festive nisser
who invade a bookshelf to begin preparations for their own celebrations. They will be with us a month, leaving only after Three Kings Day.
And so, on this day, I wish all a joyous Jule season, no matter what you call it in your own home.