The Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia in the United States Alenka Jerak says that "December is the month of anticipation. Expectations of holidays, New Year and gifts. And Slovenia is among the rare countries in the world, where gifts are carried by three good December men: St. Nicholas, Santa Claus and Dedek Mraz.
The first is St. Nicolaus (Miklavz), who has a long tradition. On the eve of his name day (December 5-6), the children set a bowl, socks, boots or shoe to receive gifts. They get them if they were diligent, otherwise, if they were naughty, they get a whip. St. Nicolaus usually awarded children with oranges, apples, cookies, walnuts or hazelnuts and a special sweet bread in a shape of St. Nicolaus.
St. Nicholas, Santa Claus and Dedek Mraz
St. Nicolaus comes to towns and villages in a procession with angels, who give away gifts, and devils (parkeljni), who scare children. At some places in Slovenia other typical Slovenian children's characters join St. Nicolaus. St. Nicholas has a long white beard, is dressed in a long white Mass cloak, wears a liturgical bishops hat and holds in his one hand a bishop's staff wrapped above, and in the other a book – in the middle of a photo.
Long time ago in some parts of Slovenia gifts on a Christmas eve were delivered by Jesus. But today, like in the US, they are delivered by Santa Claus (left at the photo).
In Slovenia, Christmas as a Christian holiday was re-introduced as a national public holiday in 1989 and we celebrate it at home, at work and in the public. Celebrations are the same as in the US.
The third good man who visits Slovenia in December is Dedek Mraz (right on the photo). He came to Slovenia from Russia after the Second World War, when the authorities tried to abolish church holidays and introduce new ones. Dedek Mraz brings gifts under the New Year's / Christmas tree on December 31, but few days before New Year’s Eve he visit schools, kindergartens and companies and gives away gifts.
We distinguish him from Santa Claus by his clothes - he is dressed in sheepskin, which is decorated with Slovenian folk ornaments, mostly carnations, and wearing black/brown boots. He has a bushy beard, long gray-white hair, and is covered with a Slovenian dormouse hut.
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