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6 December: St. Nicholas and Finnish Independence

6th December goes rather unnoticed in the British Isles; it’s a much more important festival in parts of Europe. My Dutch and North German friends tell me that it’s practically as big a deal as Christmas itself in certain circles, i.e. those in which being under the age of 6 is the main requirement.

You can find all the usual facts with two googly clicks if that’s what you’re after, but the basics: born in 3rd century Greece, became bishop of Myra, and seemed to have a bit of a thing for giving golden apples to people as a way of saving them from poverty, or in some cases, prostitution. Even after his death this philanthropic activity allegedly continued, the miraculous nature of which is what gained him sainthood.

Sometime in the middle of the 16th century, the tradition was started:

“If you’re good, children, St Nikolas will come and fill your shoes with sweets and presents,” thereby initiating the questionable parenting practices of using material bribes to encourage one’s children to be well-behaved and lying to them about the provenance of the gifts. Sound familiar?

This festival is overshadowed in another part of Europe for a specific reason: Today is also Finnish Independence Day. So, to all the Finnish brothers and sisters of SameSky Languages: Hyvää Itsenäisyyspäivää, Suomi.

We currently have no provision for Finnish language classes, but we have, in the past, matched would-be learners to teachers of the less commonly chosen languages... Turkish and Polish are the two that come to mind, so...

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