Europe

Brussels security delays St Nicholas

St Nicholas in the Netherlands, 2010 Image copyright Getty Images

Schoolchildren in Brussels will have to wait a few days more before catching sight of Saint Nicholas, the traditional bearer of Christmas gifts in much of continental Europe.

Heightened security has delayed his arrival in the Belgian capital from Monday to Friday, Visit Brussels says.

He had been due to land by steamboat at Peniches Quay on Monday morning.

Saint Nicholas, similar to Santa Claus, will distribute sweets and hot chocolate in a decorated marquee.

The busy but re-scheduled saint will be "welcomed in style by a crowd of impatient children" along with Rudi Vervoort, Premier of the Brussels region, Visit Brussels reports.

All schools in the Brussels area had been invited to take part, but the event was cancelled last week as the terror threat level was still at four - the highest - following the Paris attacks on 13 November.

The threat level, which curtailed a range of activities in the Belgian capital including school outings, has since been downgraded to three.

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Media captionRichard Westcott explores the origins of the original Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas.

Visit Brussels, the organisers, gave details of Friday's welcoming ceremony.

"From early morning all the children can participate in a feast, full of animation, music and hot drinks."

Previous years have included face-painting contests with a prize presented by Saint Nicholas.

Traditionally the saint leaves presents for children on 6 December in return for a glass of milk.

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