On the night of the 6th of December, French children leave their shoes by the chimney for St Nicolas.
The hero saved three little children from their death, the poor souls having been chopped into pieces by a forest butcher and put to marinate in salt for seven years.
Every year St Nicolas comes back for the children, leaving chocolates in their little slippers.
My parents didn’t use to follow this tradition until one year some friends left their daughters with us during St Nicolas. They asked my parents if they could play the game as their daughters would be too sad if St Nicolas forgot them.
So for the first time at the ripe age of 7, I got to leave my slipper by the chimney, well, I left both of them AND my biggest pair of boots to make sure I’d get enough chocolates.
In the morning, my sisters, our friends and I, screaming with excitement, found our shoes full of chocolates.
I was so pleased that I ate as much of it as I could at once, perhaps for all the years past and future when St Nicolas would not come to our house, and because it was so delicious anyway.
Having had too much I soon fell sick and went to bed with a broken heart. This wasn’t fair, I wanted more and there were a lot of them left. My mum then had a brilliant idea: she would keep all my chocolates in a secret place so I could have them back when I recovered.
Three days later and I was up on my feet again, getting my appetite back and asking my mum for my chocolates. She got the box and opened it… it was empty: ‘Désolée ma Chérie, je n’ai pas su résister…’ (‘I couldn’t resist it’)
St Nicolas never came again !
Text and image copyright C.A. 2012