Wednesday, December 19, 2012

St. Mikuláš

Here’s the cover I illustrated for a Slovakian publication.
(Click for larger image)
Mikulás is sort of like the Slovakian version of Saint Nicholas. On the night of December 5th, children in Slovakia traditionally place a boot on their windowsill for Mikulás to fill with treats. The boots must be polished, because he won’t fill boots that are not shiny and clean. While “good” children receive gifts such as fruits, candies, nut and toys, “bad” children can expect nothing more than a wooden spoon, an onion, a lump of coal, or a willow switch. But, with the implication that no person is either completely good or entirely bad, most children get both sweets and a switch.
As you see here, Mikuláš is often accompanied by an Angel and a Devil. On December 6th, the older boys of a village might dress up as St. Mikuláš, accompanied by his angel and devil. The boys dressed as angels wear long white shirts, while the devils wear long black coats and paint their faces black, chains and bells tied around their waist. They roam about, visiting families with small children. If the kids improvise a poem, a song or a prayer, they might receive additional gifts. Those who misbehave can expect coal, rocks, or perhaps a raw potato. Yay!

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