06 December 2009

Advent: St Nicolas

Today is St Nicolas' day. This day is not much celebrated in Sweden but in many countries in Europe: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria, UK, some Eastern Europe countries and in the northern parts of France. And especially in the Lorraine region because St Nicolas is the Patron Saint for Lorraine.

My name as you know is Lorraine and I was named so by my parents as an homage to my grand-father because our family (on my dad's side) comes from Nancy in Lorraine. As a result, although I grew up in the South of France, we celebrated St Nicolas when we were kids.

Celebrations can be slightly different from one country to another but in Lorraine St Nicolas is coming with his donkey to distribute sweets and oranges to kids that behaved well during the year. Some families even give presents as a complement or instead of Christmas.

At home we didn't do much and didn't get any presents but we got a special gingerbread shaped as St Nicolas as on the picture. Oh I loved it! I remember how happy I got every year. Those gingerbreads have a taste that is very representative of northern France and even northern Europe I would say. It can be compared to some tastes I have encountered here in Sweden. But it was very different from all the food we have in the South of France. It really was something different, something that made me travel far away to a region I had never been to. I loved it!

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