As many of you may or may not know, Friday, December 6th was Saint Nicholas Day. This is widely celebrated throughout the world but is not as well known in the United States. The original story of Santa Claus began based on a man named Nicholas born in the third century in Patara which is now on the east coast of Turkey. He was raised a devout Christian until the untimely death of his parents while he was still young and lived this way until the day that he died. He followed Jesus’ word’s to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor” which he did to help the sick and suffering. He became a Bishop while still young and during the persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire he was imprisoned. Once he was released he continued serving those around him and died December 6, 343. This day became known as St. Nicholas Day to celebrate his life and the dedication spent making those around him happier. There are many stories that include woman too poor to provide dowries to get future husbands having their socks hanging to dry and waking up with money inside that is said to have linked back to Saint Nicholas-thus the tradition now of hanging stockings or shoes on St. Nicholas Day.
Saint Nicholas is said to now leave small gifts and candy in children’s shoes that have been left out on the eve of St. Nicholas Day. Dutch children leave carrots and hay out for his horse which is replaced with treats. Saint Nicholas gifts are meant to be shared with others as that is the premise he built his life around and it is important in teaching children what he believed and what the day is about. In many cultures where Saint Nicholas day is their main gift giving holiday-they tend to not exchange many gifts on Christmas Day as to reserve that day for the celebration of Jesus. In the United States, Saint Nicholas day is not very widely celebrated however those that do put their shoes out often still celebrate Christmas in the traditional American way.