Santa Claus, or more properly Saint Nicolas of Myra is one of many early church saints whose legend is better known than any historical facts. As many other saints revered in the Catholic Church, he was moved around in the calendar during the reformation instigated by Martin Luther. The reformers ditched the saints' days and he therefore started to appear on Christmas or New Year instead of December 6. As an early church saint, his devotional day is also strongly rooted in the Orthodox churches of Eastern Europe.
The city of Fribourg is located only 20 miles from Bern, but is today mainly French speaking though it started out as a German (or Alemannic) speaking city. It boasts the only Catholic University in Switzerland and has retained its medieval character throughout the city to this day. If you want to get a feeling for the lifestyle 600 years back, this is the place to visit.
On November 9th, 2008, it was 70 years since Maurice Bavaud tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler in Munich. After prolonged torture, he was murdered by the Nazis on May 14th, 1941, after ‘legal’ proceedings followed by a sentence to death on the guillotine. He was officially rehabilitated by Germany in 1956.
The day of Saint Sylvester is the 31st of December, New Year’s Eve. In French and in German usage, the saint's name is synonymous with New Year’s Eve, party, booze, and fireworks. The village of St Silvester in Switzerland was named after the church dedicated to him. There, his day starts off with an old tradition dating back more than 400 years.