Today, December 6, is Mikulás Nap or St. Nicolas day in Hungary. It is the day that for many Hungarian children, Santa comes to call. The night before, children polish their boots and put them by the window. Inside the boots are candles and Hungarian Christmas candy called szaloncukor, which traditionally is fondant covered by chocolate, but now come in a variety of flavours.
Mikulás is accompanied by an angel and a scary devil-like creature called krampusz. If the child has been good, they receive little gifts and treats from the angels, but if they’ve been bad, they receive twigs in their boots from the krampusz.
While I didn’t put out my boots for Mikulás, there are plenty of szaloncukor around the house. They come in a variety of flavours – my favorite one is the coconut one. Restaurants get into the celebrations too. While dining out last year in the eve of Mikulás Nap, I received a Santa hat filled with a chocolate Mikulás and szaloncukor. Shops all around town have these chocolate figures for sale and you can find szaloncukor everywhere too.
It all sounds fairly familiar doesn’t it? Essentially it is the same story as with North American, except that Hungarians have separated Santa Claus and Christmas. What do Hungarians do on Christmas then? That is a story for another day. Stay tuned!
Update Dec 7: Want to see more photos of Krampusz? Check out this photo essay from The Atlantic.