I had a cultural misunderstanding last week at the mall.
I arrived bright and early one morning to discover that the entire mall had become a winter wonderland.
“Noooooo!” I groaned to myself. “It is waaaaaay too early. Sheesh! Even in Luxembourg?”
Then, this morning, I heard Mark Weedon discussing this very thing on ARA City Radio.
The decorations are not up early at all. Not when you have Kleeschen coming on December 5.
Thank you, Mark!
Kleeschen arrives accompanied by his sidekick, Hoùseker, who dresses in black and carries a stick to use on any unfortunate children who have not been good. Kleeschen, who is famous for rescuing three children from the hands of an evil butcher, makes the rounds, visiting schools and even shops, stopping often for photo opportunities and sometimes leading parades. (For more on the sidekick, you might want to take this opportunity to re-read David Sedaris’ hilarious take on this time of year.)
As I understand it, Kleeschen’s arrival in town is a Big Deal. On the afternoon of the first Sunday preceding December 6 (this year that is December 4, between 14h00 and 17h00), Klees’chen and Hoùseker arrive at the main train station and dole out sweets to kids on their parade to the city center (which is NOT to be confused with the December 11 Christmas Parade).
When Kleeschen is around, all the children leave their shoes out on window sills in case he wants to drop in some candies if he should happen to pass by to check if they’ve been bad or good. Finally, on Saint Nicholas Day eve (December 5), the children set out plates for Kleeschen to fill–traditionally with nuts and fruit, but these days I suspect things might be a little fancier.
Here is your Luxembourgish lesson for the day. Say Schéi Chrëschtdeeg! That’s Luxembourgish for “Have happy Christmas days!”
And here is a link for Rent-A-Kleeschen. Could be useful.