St. Nicholas-Tag Sale!!

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One of the best things about this time of year is learning about different cultures and holiday traditions. German culture holds a special place in Susan’s heart, because she lived in Germany while she was in college– in two different towns–Dortmund and Freiberg! In fact, the festive lighting that gives the German Christmas Markets their soft glow was the inspiration for our Holiday Lookbook this year!


Keep reading to find out about our big Holiday Traditions Contest and our even bigger St. Nicholas-Tag Sale–going on this weekend, only!

The German Christmas Markets are a wonderful holiday tradition and a nice alternative to the mass-produced gifts found in malls.  The markets usually run the last week of November through Christmas Eve and are packed with stalls, where you can find a variety of handmade gifts, including toys, wood carvings, candles, and hand-knit goodies. Besides offering completely unique, traditional gifts for everyone your list, the markets are also famous for their delicious food! You can sample grilled sausage, hot bread, and sip on spiced hot gluhwein to keep warm! In the bigger cities, the market becomes more like a carnival, with choral ensembles, street performers, and merry-go-rounds for the kids!



Another German holiday tradition is the celebration of St. Nicholas-Tag (St. Nicholas Day!) this upcoming Saturday, December 6th.  St. Nicholas was a bishop in Asia Minor in the fourth century who was known for performing good deeds. On St. Nicholas Day’s Eve, the kids clean their shoes and leave them in front of their door, along with a note or a plate with a treat for St. Nicholas. If they’ve been good, he fills their shoes with delicious nuts, candy, biscuits, or small gifts. If not, they get potatoes, coal, or twigs! On the day itself, St. Nicholas goes from house to house carrying a book in which all the children’s deeds are written. He asks each child if they’ve behaved themselves and he then gives out candy and treats for everyone to share. Then, the children give him a small craft or sing him a song.

A St. Nicholas smoker–courtesy of St. Nicholas Center

In honor of this holiday, and to help you enjoy yours, we’re having a St. Nicholas-Tag Sale this weekend through Saturday at midnight! Over 100 select items will be 50% off, so it will be easier for you to spread holiday cheer with awesome gifts for your friends and family.

The fact that each holiday tradition, even shared among a whole culture, can have so many different variations is what makes the holidays so fun and fascinating. For instance, in Stuttgart, kids dress up as St. Nicholas and go door-to-door asking for treats, much like trick or treating.

Although we’re having this sale in honor of a German tradition this week, we want to know more about how people celebrate all over the world this season. Tell us about some interesting or strange holiday customs or traditions right here on the blog, and we’ll pick two to base our next sale around! Those people will also win $50 ModCloth gift certificates. So get shopping, get sharing, and enjoy your holiday, no matter what that means to you!

36 Responses to St. Nicholas-Tag Sale!!

  1. Lisa H. 12/04/2008 at 8:51 pm #

    Oh Yay! St. Nikolaus TAG! I wish I had a big pair of boots to set outside my door to get filled with modcloth goodies.

    I also wish I were at the Weihnachtsmarkt sipping some Gluhwein out of the special mugs you can buy. I need to build up my collection further.

  2. Amanda 12/04/2008 at 9:21 pm #

    My family is Greek, and every New Year my mom makes a cake called a basilopita (translates into King’s Cake). There is always a coin hidden in the cake, and the person who finds it is supposed to have a lucky year. The cake is cut into pieces, with some given symbolically to Jesus, God, the house, the family as a whole, and to each of the family members. The cake tastes really good – the cake has a faint vanilla taste and there is powdered sugar on top.

  3. mik 12/04/2008 at 9:21 pm #

    In australia its tradition to go down to the beach and play beach criket, have a bbq with your whole family and open presents by the water side. Santa comes down to visit the kids ( normally around the time when dad slips away quietly and misses santas visit!) with his big bushy beard, chrissy hat, shorts, flip flops and smeared sunscreen of his face ( to promote a healthy aussie sun chrissy!) and a big sack of presents and hands them out to every one. He soons drives away in his old holden car because his reindeer, or sled kangeroos are having a time out and for the rest of the day we enjoy the ocean and families company.

  4. Caroline 12/04/2008 at 9:21 pm #

    In Newfoundland, there’s a tradition for Christmas time called mummering. People dress up in strange clothes, sometimes cross dressing, usually with lots of layers and their faces always covered. Then they go around the community and knock on people’s doors, calling out “any mummers allowed in?”. Then they’re usually invited into the kitchen where the homeowners try and guess who the mummers are and a kitchen party takes place, with lots of music and entertaining by the mummers. Usually the mummers are repaid for entertaining with good food and alcohol! It’s a wicked christmas tradition that as far as I know only happens in places in Newfoundland.

  5. Caroline 12/04/2008 at 9:23 pm #

    There’s even a song about mummering which can be found here!

  6. Brooke 12/04/2008 at 9:27 pm #

    In the US (mostly western parts) in the 1800s, immigrant families would have a night around the time of Christmas called Pelznickel. On this night, instead of being visited by Santa Claus, the father or oldest male of the household would dress up in a mask and female clothing and visit the family with a sack full of treats and a switch. He’d empty out his sack of goodies on the floor and the kids would all scramble to get the toys and candy while he whipped them with the switch. Pretty weird, but apparently the kids didn’t mind this. Go figure.

  7. Kirsten 12/04/2008 at 9:36 pm #

    Oh I love Saint Nicholas Day! I miss celebrating it ( I was born and raised till i was 3 in germany)

    My family every year on Christmas eve go down to the market in Seattle (pike place!) and get a bunch of seafood (7 types!) and lots of fresh goodies and then go home and my dad cookies a chipino with all of them. Then we all sit around the table and eat our dinner and share stories about our relatives that couldnt be there.

    LAter on in the evening my brother and I each can open the smallest present we have or the largest and then watch The Year Without Santa Claus with my mom.

    its not really weird but its been this way all 19 years of my life!

  8. Megan 12/04/2008 at 9:42 pm #

    Well a tradition within my own family is that our parents take an Old World Christmas ornament, in the shape and design of a pickle, and hide it in one of the five trees we have in our house. The first to find it gets to open one gift early on Christmas Eve.

  9. Megan Gants 12/04/2008 at 10:10 pm #

    I was in Hamburg, Germany last year for Christmas and had chocolate covered gingerbread and plenty of gluhwein to keep warm at the Christmas markets! Mmmm…

    My odd family tradition is watching National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. During the night, my parents have always hidden a vintage looking pickle ornament on the tree. Whoever is the first to find the pickle ornament gets a gift, but it’s usually a gift for the family to use. The gifts have been everything from a movie to a poker set. I won for at least four or five consecutive years b/c I would sneak out of bed in the middle of the night to go look for it when I was younger.

  10. Shannon 12/04/2008 at 10:17 pm #

    My family has the goofiest tradition. It’s called White Elephant but it’s a little different than what normally happens.
    We all bring one extra gift to the annual Christmas party and after all the regular gift giving and stuffing our faces is done we end with the White Elephant. It’s what everyone looks forward to most.
    It starts out just like other White Elephants; everyone picks a number and starting from whom ever gets number 1, we open the presents.
    You can “steal” a gift from someone but we had to make a rule where a gift could only be stolen three times because it was becoming rediculous!
    Where it gets weird with my family are some of the gifts that people bring. We have had a nasty, crusty old curling iron going around for years! My brother when he was 13 (he’s now 31) brought a set of skateboard wheels that are still going around to this day! People try to bring the most crazy things they can find and who ever gets it usually brings it back the next year.
    I know it’s not too crazy or weird but its a tradition in my family that has been going on as long as I can remember.

    I spent Christmas in Japan one year but, sadly, never took part in any of their traditions. 🙁

  11. Andrea 12/04/2008 at 10:20 pm #

    This can’t be an American tradition. In fact, I’m certain that it reaches somewhat into the depths of my heritage but that doesn’t narrow it down either because I’m quite the mutt. For lack of a better name I will name it after my mother, thus donning it the Susan tradition. Anyway, each year my mother (aside from the traditional cooking spree: Ah, yes, cabbage rolls, pierogies… not exactly suitable for my vegan self, alas!) decorates the house in one very distinct way: elves. She hangs these elves on the banister of our stairwell early in the month of December. Oh, how nice you say…no! Terrifying. These elves are very old with the creepiest grins you’ve ever seen. Thus, over the years my brother and I have developed a coping strategy to resist the frightening elves.
    The main elf (at least my mother’s favorite) is named Peutersnoot (the spelling is arbitrary as it the pronunciation: it’s different every time, and also hilarious). Peutersnoot’s greatest attribute is his candy cane nose. Our family tradition of messing with Peutersnoot came about when I was about 4 and realized that the candy cane nose was indeed removable.
    Now, without fail, every year either my brother or I snatch Peutersnoot’s nose and hide it somewhere in the house. This throws my mother nearly into hysterics (by now I assume that she is just a good actress) over the course of days, until around Christmas Eve when we finally return the nose and all is well (and quiet, not a creature is stirring, not even my mother).

    Ah, tradition… Make a Susan/Peutersnoot Sale to honor this hilarious custom of my household and only good can come. Ha!

  12. Jen 12/04/2008 at 10:21 pm #

    In Norway, on Christmas Eve, all brooms in the house are hidden away. Long ago it was believed that witches and spirits came on Christmas, stole your brooms and flew away!

  13. mary 12/04/2008 at 10:22 pm #

    In response to Megan’s post: My family has the pickle tradition too, complete with a “pickle prize” for the winner. Both my parents grew up in the south and I always heard this was a Southern tradition, but it may have roots in other regions as well.

  14. Jess 12/04/2008 at 10:38 pm #

    I’ve worked at a lot of horse stables in my life. And every year, it’s a tradition to fill a big, brightly-colored water bucket with peppermints, apples, and carrots for all the horses at the barn to share. This year, the barn’s even decorated with multicolored christmas lights! It’s fun to let the animals in your life know that you care, even if they don’t realize what day it is!

  15. Miranda 12/04/2008 at 11:00 pm #

    I used to be in a handbell choir, and every Christmas we had a Secret Santa gift exchange. One year a long time ago, someone was given a can of Spam with a Spam cookbook as a joke gift, and when I was in the choir, every year, the person who had received the Spam gave it to the person they were Secret Santa for on the last night of the exchange. I never got the Spam, sadly. We also had a tradition that after the Christmas concert, we would all run to the luxury hotel across the street and try to fit everyone in the choir into the elevator. Then we would go up the 30 floors to the top, and go back to the bottom and up to the top a few times.

  16. Kat Keller 12/04/2008 at 11:59 pm #

    I can’t hold a candle to any of these great traditions. but I’ll share anyway. When I was little, there were two things that I did every Christmas. We has an ornament that was a tiny little box, and I would put a note for Santa inside and hide it in the tree. As a kid, I was trying to prove to myself that Santa was real. If my parents couldn’t find my note for Santa, then if I got the gift, it meant Santa was real. I’d move the box every few days leading up to Christmas Eve trying to keep a few steps ahead of my parents. It was always exciting to find new places in the tree to tuck it in and it kept me writhing in anticipation for the big day. The other thing I’d do was pick out my own little area at the bottom of the tree to make a “Santa Land”. Santa Land was a little “home” in the back of the tree. I had a favorite Santa ornament, this adorable vintage-looking one carrying a bag bulging with toys. He went in the center of the tree, next to the trunk. Joining him would be a housekeeper — a Minnie Mouse ornament — and some friends. The gateway to Santa Land was a delicate glass snowflake ornament. My Christmas tree became a lit-up dollhouse, and the plethora of ornaments were my dolls. I remember the first year I couldn’t find Minnie in the box or ornaments — I was devastated.

    My favorite historical Christmas tradition has to be the German pickle-in-the-tree. My family has never gone through the pickle hunt, but my cousin and uncle have their own version. In the original. a pickle was hidden in the tree and the person who found it got a special surprise. My cousin and her father trade pickle ornaments every year, hiding them on the tree as an acknowledged ‘in-joke’ between the two of them. It’s cleary a much more widely practiced tradition that I ever realized as a child, given that pickle ornaments are fairly available, but I was always happy with my own little secrets hidden in the tree — pickles be damned.

  17. Amanda Amoateng 12/05/2008 at 1:12 am #

    My family is from the West African nation of Ghana. The Christmas season in Ghana typically runs from December 20th to the first week in January The festivities come at a time when the cocoa harvest has ended, usually a time of happiness and abundance.Throughout the week, people go around saying Afishapa, a word that is apart of the Akan language (a major language in Ghana), that translates to Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Leading up to Christmas, families decorate their houses, schools, and neighborhoods with colorful crepe paper. On Christmas Eve there is usually an outdoor procession led by children and local musicians. After attending church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, children get small gifts from Ghana’s “Father Christmas”. Instead of the North Pole, Father Christmas in Ghana comes from the tropics to give simple gifts, such as clothes to wear during the holidays or good things to eat such as imported chocolates, cookies and crackers. Father Christmas’ attire, according to Ghanaian tradition, consists of sandals and a red robe trimmed in gold fabric. A traditional African patterned sash (typically kente cloth) is placed around him as Father Christmas wears a pale colored cloak with a hood over his red cap.

    The festive mood continues on December 26, which is known as Boxing Day, in Ghana. On this day, it is typical to surprise friends and family with presents, usually something practical, to show gratitude. December 27 is a day of rest and is followed by two more days of people visiting each other. To cap off the week, a siren can be heard throughout towns ushering in the New Year.

  18. Alex 12/05/2008 at 1:33 am #

    YAY! we always did St. Nicholas Tag in my German class in high school.
    One tradition of my family’s starts on Thanksgiving. My aunt has always had these two lawn ornaments of a huge deer and a huge snowman- both made out of iron rods. She lives out in the woods of Stillwater, Minnesota and every year while all of the rest of us are in our food comas or putting together puzzles she hides them in the woods behind their house. On Christmas day we all go out into the woods while the food is cooking and search. Whoever find them does not get candy, does not get more pie, they get GLORY!!!! and a picture of themselves with the deer and/or snowman framed and put in the tv room downstairs next to last years winner. There is literally a wall FULL of pictures of us all proudly displaying our superiority to last year’s winner. it’s good times.

    We also play THE GAME. each of us always bring a GAME present. Most of them are rediculous but there’s always a couple of actually good presents. we all draw numbers and we go around by # and pick a present out of the pile. we open our presents after we all get them. we then pick #’s again and start the stealing. one year i ended up with a present from my uncle. a cardboard box, filled with a wooden crate that was screwed closed- he gave me a screwdriver to open that, inside that was a tall tin cylinder with the lid glued shut- he gave me a can opener, inside that was a box duct taped shut- that happenned three times over-each covered in duct tape. inside all that? two zip lock bags full of popcan tops- TWO THOUSAND popcan tops and a list of mcdonalds in the area to donate them to. guess you gotta work for the good ones huh? hehe.

  19. Mélissandre Lacaille 12/05/2008 at 1:44 am #

    There’s not much to say about the French tradition, I think it’s pretty close from the anglosaxon tradition, the only difference is that we are supposed to eat a christmas log as a dessert. It’s an icecream often shaped as a log decorated with sugar mushrooms, trees, present… Nowadays the dessert makers try to be the most original .

  20. Mélissandre Lacaille 12/05/2008 at 1:44 am #

    There’s not much to say about the French tradition, I think it’s pretty close from the anglosaxon tradition, the only difference is that we are supposed to eat a christmas log as a dessert. It’s an icecream often shaped as a log decorated with sugar mushrooms, trees, present… Nowadays the dessert makers try to be the most original .

  21. Bonny 12/05/2008 at 2:24 am #

    Im from the Netherlands and we Celebrate Sinterklaas (Sint Nikolaas)… this day is from origin Dutch…(not German, im sorry, though its celebrated in Germany too!)
    here is the history behind it: (in full english!) so i made some really nice gifts for my family with a poem along, thats funny and really about the person i give my gifts too and what is inside!
    more on Sinterklaas on wiki
    I cannot wait to find out what im gonna get!!! (maybe some mod clothes?!)

  22. Bonny 12/05/2008 at 2:29 am #

    edit: Sinterklaas is celebrated on december 5th, or on december 6th but then only the morning (thats when you wakeup and find out that you have something left behind in your shoe!!!! gifts!!!) and Sinterklaas has nothing to do with Santa Claus or Christmas! its a whole other tradition! But when the Dutch discovered America and founded New York (first called New Amsterdam) they took Sinterklaas with them, and it became Santa Claus, but the Americans moved it from dec5th to Christmas, and Coca Cola re-inveted Santa again for marketing their drinks!
    Sinterklaas btw comes from Spain, as the Dutch children believe, but origianly he comes from Turkey! (really!)
    So put you shoe infront of the fireplace, and hope he brings you some chocoladeletters, pepernoten, marcepein, speculaas en prezzies!

  23. Zel 12/05/2008 at 2:41 am #

    I’m Filipino-American, but once I got to spend New Years in the Philippines with my extended family. On New Year’s Eve we didn’t eat a lot most of the day because we were meant to eat a feast around midnight. I was so hungry!! I remember eating a lot of traditional Filipino food and also some Filipino translations of American foods. We were also supposed to keep all the doors and windows open so that good luck and whatnot can pour in. Concurrently, people were lighting various kinds of fireworks in the neighborhood streets even though this is something the government was discouraging for safety. There was a lot of noise and sparks and I remember standing in the door way of my aunt’s candy shop, which was in front of the house, in awe of the craziness. It welcomed a good year.

  24. Chris 12/05/2008 at 3:36 am #

    I come from the Netherlands, so in addition to Bonny, I’d like to refer to:

    (great holiday, great traditions and too much to capture in a tiny comment here!)

  25. Becky 12/05/2008 at 6:08 am #

    I’m from New Zealand but have been living in Germany for a couple of years, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the different ways we celebrate. In NZ we do things exactly like mik said about Australia – go to the beach, swim, play cricket, have a bbq. It’s awesome. The only other thing I can add is that NZ has its own native Christmas tree, called Pohutukawa, which has bright red flowers and blooms in late December. It’s really sweet.

    I like the German traditions too though – the markets and lights and gluhwein are lovely. I also love how your own traditions seem perfectly normal until you think about them, and other people’s can seem so strange – I teach in a kindergarten, and the kids thought it was hilarious when I told them that in English speaking countries Santa comes down the chimney. But then in some parts of Germany the Christkind (baby Jesus) comes to visit at Christmas and flies in through the window, and they don’t think there’s anything weird about that!

  26. Kamarie 12/05/2008 at 7:33 am #

    These are all such great stories. It’s fun just to read them all.

    In my family there are two traditions… The first stared around 1980 when my little brother Erik was around three or four. We were out at the Christmas tree farm trying to find a tree and Erik decided he was done trudging through the muddy cold. He screamed and cried for a good hour while we all searched. Then at last my Mom was finally happy with one of the trees and we began to saw it down. Erik was mad because he wanted to go a long time ago and now he had decided he didn’t want the tree. So he started really wailing and kicking and just putting on a full out FIT. Myself and my big brother had finished cutting the tree down during this fit and it fell over on Erik!

    So the family tradition now is to find someone the tree is going to fall on. Now that we’re all older, it doesn’t seem to work as well, but we always get a good laugh out of it. (Even Erik.)

    Now that I live away from my siblings and family I’ve had to develop my own traditions. One of them is lighting luminarias on Christmas eve. This is a tradition in the Southwest. A luminaria is a brown paper bag (lunch bag) that you put some sand in and a tea candle. You line your sidewalk and all the flat surfaces around your house/apartment with these glowing bags on Christmas eve to light the way for happiness and good new year.

    It’s really beautiful. Whole neighborhoods do it and usually we go walking at night to see the luminarias. It’s particularly pretty at the cemeteries.

  27. Jennifer 12/05/2008 at 9:43 am #

    in grade school we always sat a shoe outside of our locker on st. nicholas eve, the next morning there were always jolly ranchers in there… 🙂

  28. Amanda Amoateng 12/05/2008 at 10:13 am #

    Sorry I forgot to mention in my previous description that in Ghana during the Christmas season, the temperatures are hot (we are talking about 100 degree weather). So as a result of temps in Ghana, the people of Ghana (especially the children) associate Father Christmas as coming from the Tropics, as oppose to the cold snowy weather of the North Pole.

  29. Lora 12/05/2008 at 12:54 pm #

    My boyfriend and I moved to D.C. a year ago and we made it a tradition along with several other people to attend the Water Skiing Santa Event on Christmas Eve. Its pretty awesome to see different christmas characters, like the Grinch skiing! Its one odd christmas tradition, but that is why we like it!

    Check out the websites below:

  30. Maria 12/05/2008 at 3:21 pm #

    This is kinda cheesy but I have fond memories of this tradition and still do it.

    It’s an old Southern Italian Christmas tradition. On Christmas Eve my grandmother would cook a special meal for our pet {we had a german shepard} sometimes lasagna or something that you would cook for a guest and feed it to our dog. If you didnt have a pet you would cook something for your neighbors pet or any pet.

    This being a symbolic gesture of thanking the animal kingdom for keeping baby Jesus warm and alive in the cold manger.

    To show respect and gratitude to Gods creatures as well on a time of joy and peace to all in Gods Kingdom.

    My doggie sure didn’t mind this and rather looked forward to chomping down homemade grubs 🙂

    I still do this for my rotti!

  31. mik m 12/05/2008 at 8:06 pm #

    hey again, i no ive submitted an answer about australia and what we do over here when its christmas but i thought id write in and leave a submission about what we once did for christmas….on christmas island! my parents have owned a house over there for the past 3 years and 2 years ago we went over there to visit the house and see the island. its a beautiful place, (my dads a real nature lover so its perfect for him!) but because alot of malaysians and chinese people live over there christmas isnt as big a deal as it is to many other cultures. luckily the poeple are accepting of other cultures and have adopted the chrissy spirit and the kids love it! Most people would gather their families and celebrate at thier houses but we went down to the local tavern named the Golden Bosun and had lunch and opened pressies. That morning me and my dad went fishing and hung out with all the other kids.Most people over there celebrate their own cultures christmas at different times of the year. Everyone may not celebrate christmas the same way as we did, but everyone aknowledges the celebratory times and is thankful for another happy year and looking forward to another merry christmas.i am looking forward to going back there early next year, but sadly after the christmas break.

  32. Kate 12/07/2008 at 9:44 am #

    Wow, these are all awesome stories! My family has a few traditions, but none of them are particularly old or related to any particular country. Every year, we go to a performance of the Christmas Revels (, and a performance of the Boston Camerata (an early music group..they’re so good!). And at some point before Christmas, we watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.

  33. Madalynn 12/07/2008 at 11:41 pm #

    I am of German descent (mostly Irish though…) and we have all these old fashioned German Santa Claus dolls… they mean so much to me. All of my family’s traditions have been passed down, and since we are Catholics, we are deeply into it. But some of are traditions include always opening one gift Christmas Eve evening, watching It’s A Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Christmas Vacation, waking up early and wait on the stairs for our parents to wake up (all five of us do it, haha, how cute), opening our stockings, having a big pancake breakfast with syrup and “snow” (confectioner’s sugar), and then we open gifts and have ham for dinner… and since my birthday is on Christmas (I’ll be 18), we have my little “party” late that night. I honestly pretend it’s Christmas all the way up until January 1st (we all know Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving and ends on New Years Day).

  34. Abigail 12/17/2008 at 5:28 pm #

    I love your tradition Amanda. I am going to try it for myself at Christmas this year THANK YOU FOR SHARING AMANDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Alpujarras Holidays 04/23/2009 at 9:03 pm #

    How do I add this to my RSS reader? Sorry I’m a newbie 🙁


  1. ModLife » Blog Archive » “Reindeer Games” Sale! - 12/18/2008

    […] Theron.  It was actually inspired by a holiday tradition submitted by one of our readers for the St. Nicholas-Tag Holiday Traditions Contest. Winning a $50 gift certificate and our envy (this tradition sounds so fun!) is Alex, who had this […]

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