Today, December 6, is Nikolaustag in Germany. It’s not a public holiday but many people celebrate, especially families with children. It starts the night before, when kids shine their boots and put them outside their bedroom doors or use felt “socks” and put them up somewhere in the house. According to folklore, St. Nikolaus will appear overnight and put little gifts into them if they have been good throughout the year. Bad kids will technically only receive a bunch of birch twigs. Traditional gifts include apples, oranges, Christmas cookies and candy, and all kinds of small toys. There is an alternative to shoe shining: red Nikolausstiefel (St. Nikolaus` boots) made out of plastic, as sold in grocery stores. They can be bought empty or already filled with candy. St. Nikolaus is basically what is Santa Claus in other cultures, hence the red, fur-trimmed boots. It’s customary for co-workers to put candy on each other’s desks early in the morning of Dec 6th. Some companies choose this date to hold annual Christmas parties. St. Nikolaus himself does not make a personal appearance on this day – the kids have to wait until Christmas Eve to see a real Weihnachtsmann (Santa).