Monday, November 30, 2009

St. Nicholas Day

It's not until next Sunday.

The manner of its observation is well described in a Wikipedia entry.

In Germany, Nikolaus is usually celebrated on a small scale. Many children put a boot called Nikolaus-Stiefel outside the front door on the night of December 5 to December 6. St. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts and sweets, and at the same time checks up on the children to see if they were good, polite and helpful the last year. If they were not, they will have a tree branch (Rute) in their boots instead. Sometimes a disguised Nikolaus also visits the children at school or in their homes and asks them if they have been good (sometimes ostensibly checking his golden book for their record), handing out presents according to behaviour.

But for many children, Nikolaus also elicited fear, as he was often accompanied by Servant Ruprecht, who would threaten to beat, or sometimes actually beat the children for misbehaviour as using this myth to 'bring up cheeky children' for a better, good behaviour. In Switzerland, where he is called Schmutzli, he would threaten to put bad children in a sack and take them back to the dark forest. In other accounts he would throw the sack into the river, drowning the naughty children. These traditions were implemented more rigidly in Catholic countries and regions such as Austria or Bavaria.

My riff on this subject has little to do with any great interest in Christmas traditions.

But it is on December 6 that in the Sandlands government will function once more, ten long, silent days after Dubai admitted that it was experiencing trifling cash flow difficulties.

Since Dubai chose to remain officially stumm for the duration of the long EId Al Adha government holiday (tellingly a time of sacrifice) others felt obliged to comment.

According to the Wall Street Journal,The Sunday London Times newspaper was removed by authorities from shelves in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday amid intensive reporting of Dubai's debt problems, an executive at the paper said.

The National Media Council ordered the paper blocked by distributors without providing a reason, an executive at the paper in Dubai told Zawya Dow Jones.

The Sunday Times edition available in the U.A.E. on Nov. 29 featured a double-page spread graphic illustrating Dubai's ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum sinking in a sea of debt. The Times wasn't given a reason for the block, or a time-frame when it will be lifted, the executive said.

A government official in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E., said that the picture of Sheik Mohammed, which accompanied a story entitled The sinking of Dubai's dream, was "offensive."

The "offensive" Times story is here, the opinion of KeefieBoy, a longtime Sandlander, here.

I rather like the idea of the Nikolaus, Ruprecht and the Schmutzli flying Emirates to Dubai with lots of sacks to bag lots of naughty children (so-called economic experts) and chucking them in the Creek. Ruprecht meanwhile would box the ears of cheeky chappies who have been telling big fibs for years and distribute thudding great Ruten to the idiots who believe that censorship is the answer when crisis looms.

Nikolaus would visit what was meant to be Dubailand and weep.

1 comment:

Keefieboy said...

Thanks for the plug!