The rumors that Germany does not have a Santa Claus are true. So, if there's no Santa there are also no reindeer and no presents to open on Christmas Day, right? Not quite. German children actually receive treats and gifts twice during the holiday season and on both occasions earlier than American children, once on Dec. 6, St. Nicholas Day and on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

The Children from Baumholder's Wetzel Child Development Center recently benefited from this tradition when the German Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, visited the center and distributed treats to the children.

Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, was actually part of a delegation from the nearby village of Berglangenbach.
"The children were very open and attentive," said Gerda Welch, who for the second year dressed herself as Santa Claus and hand out treats to American Children.

Assisting Santa was Viktor Teichner, chairman of the citizens association from Berglangenbach, who asked, "Is there anything greater than seeing the shining eyes of children as they experience the spirit of Christmas?"

Teichner, along with Helmut Theis, mayor of Berglangenbach; Chaplain Annette Schmid, who serves the communities of Berglangenbach and Berschweiler; and Peter Lang, mayor of the District of Baumholder, accompanied Santa on his, "her," rounds of the Wetzel CDC.

Lt. Col. Michael D. Sullivan, U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder commander and his wife Julia welcomed the visitors and escorted them as they dropped in on the various age groups in the Wetzel CDC.

"It is our intension to make the children of our American neighbors happy and to introduce the German tradition of St. Nicholas to them," said Theis, adding that the U.S. community and Berglangenbach enjoy a longstanding friendly relationship.

Julia Sullivan also accompanied Teichner and Santa a week prior when they visited the German Kindergarten in nearby Berschweiler. Sullivan presented small tokens of appreciation to the personnel of the kindergarten and told them, "Your work with the children is frequently underestimated. Thank you for all that you do."

German kindergartens in the nearby communities often have American children enrolled in their programs.

Okay, Germany really does have a Santa Claus, at least in Baumholder and Berglangenbach, and her name is Welch, uh, I mean St. Nicholas.