The Baker’s Dozen: A True Story of Saint Nicholas [Original Comic]
In the spirit of previous comics such as The Klaubauf's Wager and Tio de Nadal, we at Comics Alliance are pleased to present a brand new exclusive original Christmas comic by Benito Cereno and Chuck Knigge. So to help celebrate this joyous Christmas Eve, please enjoy this traditional tale of Saint Nicholas, and a baker who has to learn a new way of counting.
Although most stories of Saint Nicholas have their origins in Europe, this one originates in the Dutch American colony of New Amsterdam, later New York. To this day, the Dutch are among the most enthusiastic celebrants of Saint Nicholas, aka Sinterklaas, where his feast day is far more popular than Christmas itself. It was the influence of Dutch settlers' zeal for Sinterklaas that helped make Santa Claus so popular in America.
That said, this story is set "once upon a time, in a land not so far away," so any anachronistic details should be chalked up to the fantasy of an ambiguous past that never really existed.
This story is by no means a claim to being the origin of the phrase "a baker's dozen," which most likely has its origins in the Middle Ages, with bakers intentionally throwing in an additional item to avoid being accused of shorting their customers. This is just a story.
Traditionally, the visitor to the baker's shop is Saint Nicholas himself, often in disguise as an old woman, but I took the opportunity to introduce Schmutzli, Saint Nicholas's dirt and soot covered (and slightly deranged) assistant from Switzerland, where Saint Nick is known as Samichlaus. Schmutzli would have been all but unknown to a Dutchman, hence his usefulness here.
In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas's assistant is known as Piet. Piet can be seen grabbing a Saint Nicholas cookie on the last page, as I felt he shouldn't be left out altogether from a story in a Dutch setting.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Benito, Chuck, and Comics Alliance!