While many of us are gearing up for Christmas Day, some communities will begin the festivities early this year on Saint Nicholas Day, marked on 6 December.
The historical Nicholas was born in the 4th century to wealthy Greek parents in Turkey. He is known for many miracles, including a legend saying he restored three murdered children to life. The day is widely celebrated throughout Europe with eating fish.
Saint Nicholas’ Day, observed on December 6 (in Western Christian countries) and 19 December (in Eastern Christian countries), is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. It is celebrated as a Christian festival with particular regard to his reputation as a bringer of gifts, as well as through the attendance of Mass or worship services. In Europe, especially in “Germany and Poland, boys would dress as bishops begging alms for the poor.” In Ukraine, children wait for St. Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows provided that the children were good during the year. Children who behaved badly may expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows. In the Netherlands, “Dutch children put out a clog filled with hay and a carrot for Saint Nicholas’ horse. On Saint Nicholas’ Day, gifts are tagged with personal humorous rhymes written by the sender.” In the United States, one custom associated with Saint Nicholas Day is children leaving their shoes in the foyer on Saint Nicholas Eve in hope that Saint Nicholas will place some coins on the soles, for them to awake to.