“Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Clause. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?” Jon Bon Jovi
6th of December is the day of St. Nicholas in Hungary. Although St Nicholas is usually well known as the ‘original Santa Claus’ or ‘Father Christmas’, historians actually have only limited information about him due to the lack of official evidence and references to him in written or pictorial sources. All that can be stated surely is that bishop St Nicholas probably lived in the fourth-century in the Lycian port of Myra, in the south-west of modern Turkey. In addition, it is likely that he died on the 6 December, which was celebrated as his feast day in the medieval church calendar.
One of the earliest legends that was attached to his name tells how Saint Nicholas heard of a man who could not afford the dowries for his three daughters, with the result that he intended – regretfully – to send them to the brothel to work. Saint Nicholas saved them from this fate by throwing three bags of gold through their window at night… it is this tale which is often identified as the root of Saint Nicholas’s reputation as the unseen gift-giver who comes at night from above. Whether or not this event really happened is entirely uncertain.
In Hungary, and other significantly Christian countries, the church calendar and its devoted days to celebrate certain saints determine the name day of people, even today. Due to his death on 6 December, Saint Nicholas has a devoted day in the Christian calendar on 6th of December, which is also the name day of all people who were given the name Miklos/Nicholas when being baptised. Hence Mikulas, the Hungarian Santa Claus, is Hungary’s version of Saint Nicholas. On the Eve of Saint Nicholas, 5th December, children leave their newly polished shoes on the windowsill. Mikulas, or Saint Nicholaus, on his name day 6th of December, visits Hungary’s children and fills their boots with items that indicate how good the child has been. Good children get sweets and small gifts; bad children get onions, sticks, or other undesirable items. However, the shoes are often filled with both desirable and undesirable gifts because Hungarians believe that no child is all good or all bad. Sometimes Szent Mikulas, dressed in his red-and-white bishop’s clothesis accompanied by a devil figure, called Krampusz. He acts as a counterpoint to Mikulas’ goodness, to represent the common belief of noone being just good or bad.
The custom of gifting of children at Christmas has been propagated since 1535 by Martin Luther as an alternative to the previous very popular gift custom on Saint Nicholas, to focus the interest of the children to Christ instead of the veneration of saints.
“God put Santa Claus on earth to remind us that Christmas is ‘sposed to be a happy time.” Bil Keane
For the shells
180 g powder sugar
140 g ground walnuts
Zest of two lemons
100 g egg whites
66 g caster sugar
For the filling and decoration
Juice of one lemon
Enough icing sugar to make a thick consistency
As described in previous macaron recipes.