Thrills and terror on Saint Nicholas' Day
On Monday evening thousands of Czech children were thrilled and terrified by angels and devils, as they celebrated Saint Nicholas' Day. This is the time when the Christmas spirit really begins in earnest. Saint Nicholas, not to be confused with his rather more secular Anglo-Saxon derivative, Santa Claus, comes every 5th December to Czech children. He rewards those who have been good - as long as they recite him a poem - and has a few nasty surprises for those who have been naughty. David Vaughan, joined in the Saint Nicholas - in Czech "Mikulas" - celebrations with his children Tommy and Hannah, aged 7 and 5 and once they had recovered from the trauma, he asked them about their impressions.
"The devil and the angels come..."
And who else comes?
Yes, but he's not like the English Santa Claus, is he?
"He is a bishop. He's dressed in white with a hat."
"They go into the sack. The devil puts them in a sack and takes them to hell."
And what happens to the good children?
"They get presents."
And did you get anything?
"Chocolate, nuts and a lolly."
"Yes. It wasn't really Saint Nicholas, it was the children from the fifth class."
Did anybody get taken away by the devil?
What had he done?
Were you scared?
Hannah, you were scared when you saw the devil. Was that because you've been naughty this year?
"I don't know."
A little bit?