Happy St. Nikolaus Day!
St. Nikolaus and I had a rocky start to our friendship. In southern German and Austrian homes, St. Nikolaus comes for a visit, bringing gifts in exchange for songs and kisses.
My first encounter with him at our door was when I was two. My poor father, who was in fact the man underneath the St. Nikolaus costume, still tells the story about how “pure terror” filled little Essie’s eyes when he came in the door. Even with his fake white beard removed, this is still the best picture my mom was able to snap:
In case you’re worried I always rewarded my parents’ efforts to create special traditions and memories for their children with fear and ingratitude, I offer these pictures that later years were more successful and smile-filled:
However, since I don’t live with my parents anymore and I have yet to convince Dave, my husband, to dress up as an Armenian Bishop, our St. Nikolaus Day celebration will be more low key. It’ll include some popcorn, Kinderpunsch, and cozy Advent candles.
Kinderpunsch is a hot beverage served in steaming mugs at German and Austrian Christmas markets. This non-alcoholic alternative to Glühwein is a mixture of cider, juice and tea.
Three years ago, Dave and I spent Christmas overseas with my Austrian relatives and visited as many of the markets as possible. We made a point to buy a Punsch at each one and kept the mugs as souvenir. Every Advent I love unpacking our little mug collection and making this Kinderpunsch recipe as a cozy tradition.
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bag hibiscus tea
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- Heat juice, cider, water and cinnamon to a simmer.
- Add tea bags for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove tea bags.
- Add honey.
- Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes. You can just keep it on the stove quietly simmering while it fills your home with amazing smells.
- To serve, fill into cozy Christmas mugs and sip with loved ones, preferably with a lit candle or two or ten.
- Serves: 2 (I highly recommend tripling or quadrupling this in a huge vat and enjoying it every evening this week)