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Felicitas and the Great Christmas Jumble

"The Christ Child brings the presents!" Elise said. "No, Santa Claus!" replied Felicitas. The girls were sitting with the picture books in the cozy corner of the kindergarten and simply could not agree. "Yes, exactly!“ Lilli said. "Last Christmas we still lived in Washington and Santa Claus came there with his reindeer." "And there's also St. Nicholas," Imke added, who was sitting next to Lilli. "I also like St. Nicholas" Elise said, "but on Christmas it's definitely the Christ Child who comes!"  Then Felicitas got angry, jumped up, and stamped her foot on the floor.

"Quiet down, children, don't argue," Nina, the teacher, cried out. She went to the cozy corner and sat down next to the girls. "Felicitas, come sit next to me and we'll talk about the different Christmas customs. Can I tell you something special, children? The one to bring the presents at Christmas time, and when they are unwrapped is different – depending on where you live." "Get out of here!" said Felicitas. She could hardly believe it.

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Nina called the other children together and everyone got comfortable in the cozy corner. Then she began to tell a story: "In the past, during the time of the knights in the Middle Ages, there was only St. Nicholas in Germany. People back then set out boots or a plate on the evening of December 5th and then found nuts or apples there the next morning. This custom has been kept to this day in many areas." "Yes, that's exactly what I also do!" Elise cried out. "Yes, it's true!" Felicitas had to admit. "But St. Nicholas doesn't bring any Christmas presents," she added stubbornly. "Not any more today," Nina explained. "It was simply different in the past. The story of how the invention of the Christ Child happened is a little complicated. In any case, it's the Christ Child who brings the gifts today, especially in southern Germany and in Austria, while people in northern and eastern Germany as well as in other parts of the world believe instead in Santa Claus. Santa Claus, by the way, doesn't look the same everywhere; in France, for example, he wears a red coat with a pointed cap." "But in the US, he wears a red jacket and pants. And he rides in a sleigh pulled by reindeer," Lilli added. "Santa Claus goes from house to house the night of December 24th, slides down the chimney, and then leaves the presents. My American friends and also my brother Steven, my parents, and I always waited until the next morning to unwrap the presents."

The girls were astonished. "Really? Children in the US don't unwrap presents until the morning of December 25th?" "Yes," Nina confirmed, "and when do we unwrap presents here in Germany?" "On Christmas Eve!“ the children cried out. Nina smiled: "Obviously you know that. But imagine: in Spain, the children in the past had to wait until January 6th for their presents." "Why was that?" Elise wanted to know. "In Spain, the Three Wise Men traditionally bring the presents. The children set out bread and water on the evening of January 5th, and then the next morning, that is on January 6th, they find their presents.“ "That's almost like our St. Nicholas!“ Imke cried out.

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Nina nodded: "So you see that the traditions are very different, and everyone can celebrate Christmas as they like. In other areas of the world or for people who have another religion, Christmas is celebrated yet again completely differently. In China, for example, the celebration on New Year's Day is much more important than Christmas. But I have another interesting story for you," the teacher said, adding, "in many cities and villages in Italy, it's not the Three Wise Men who come but the witch Befana." "What, a witch?" Matze asked, amazed. "Witches don't have anything to do with Christmas!“ "But they do in Italy. I'll look for the story and then I'll read it aloud to you tomorrow," Nina promised.

"That's quite a Christmas jumble!“ Felicitas cried out and then jumped up and down on the soft cushions, singing "Christmas jumble! Christmas jumble! Christmas jumble!" Elise and Lilli immediately joined in. "Stop, you crazy chickens. That's the end of hopping around,“ Nina cried out laughing. "You may first romp around in the yard, and then we're going to make St. Nicholas boots out of felt." "No, no, no … no way St. Nicholas boots," Felicitas cried out. "I'm only going to make Santa Claus boots!" she said giggling. "But Imke and I are going to make St. Nicholas boots, right?" Elise asked and ran after Felicitas. "Well, Felicitas shouldn't be surprised if St. Nicholas doesn't bring her any chocolate. He doesn't like naughty children!“ Imke said, shaking her head. "Well, St. Nicholas is generous and Felicitas isn't always naughty," Nina said, winking. "Felicitas isn't always naughty? Really? I've never noticed that," Lilli said giggling, as she looked forward to the German St. Nicholas.

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