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Christmas at the School


In the homes of Belgium parishioners, the traditions of the Old Country were very much alive. At school, one of the highlights the children had to look forward to was December 6, the feast of Saint Nicholas (in Flemish: Sint Niklaas or Sinterklaas). On that day this holy man comes down the chimney and leaves presents, sweets, chocolate and marzipan figures for the children. This feast of Sinterklaas is the most important of Belgium traditions. In fact this is one of the Belgium traditions that have been exported to many other countries the world over. Santa Claus comes from this old Belgian feast. When you look at the two old men, they look exactly the same, apart from their clothes.


Each of the four classrooms in the new school had two grades and one sister. Like most Catholic schools of the time, discipline was strict, but there were opportunities for fun, as well. One of the memorable events where everyone enjoyed themselves was the annual Christmas party.
The First Christmas

The first Christmas at the school was celebrated in the respective rooms. The children received candy and popcorn balls from Fr. Kubelbeck, and pictures and medals from the Sisters. The children presented a Vivetta and cigars to their pastor and a large box of stationary and candy to the Sisters. Sister Sibylla’s room entertained other rooms with a little Christmas program. The Christmas hymns had been practiced by the children to be sung for the first time on Christmas morning.
The Second Christmas

All the children were taken to the gymnasium where they were surprised to see in the center a beautiful decorated tree. Bags of candy were spread out on a table on which the tree stood. Some distance from the center tree, four tables were placed in as may directions holding gifts that were to be exchanged among the children. Father Kubelbeck then distributed the gifts.