On Sunday, 5 December 2021, a day before Saint Nicolas day, a group of children eagerly awaited the arrival of Kleeschen, also known as Saint Nicolas, at the Embassy of Luxembourg in Washington, DC. Their patience was rewarded as Kleeschen made a stop at the Embassy on his way across the ocean to Luxembourg, with a bag full of gifts, chocolate treats, and of course the traditional Boxemännchen, the Luxembourgish pastry to celebrate the event. The children had prepared songs to welcome Kleeschen. He surely received lots of smiles and laughter, and even a lovely card and a thank-you note!
In Luxembourg, Kleeschen is an old man with white hair and a white beard, dressed in red. Unlike Santa Claus, Kleeschen wears a red bishop's mitre and carries a bishop's crosier (a sort of staff).
Tradition dictates that Kleeschen would go from village to village and ask if the kids had behaved during the year. From the end of November, children leave their slippers outside their bedroom door every night for the Kleeschen to first bring them sweets and then, during the night of the 5 December, proper presents (toys and more treats).
In the Grand Duchy the Ministry of Education has decided to declare this day a holiday for the children in primary school, that’s how important it is!