Christmas isn’t here quite yet, but kiddies all across Europe are celebrating St. Nicholas Day in honor of the original “Old St. Nick.” St. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra in fourth-century Turkey and December 6th is all about celebrating the generous St. Nicholas.
So what is today all about? Read on…
Although not much is known about St. Nicholas’ life, it is known that he wholeheartedly believed in Jesus from an early age and when his parents passed away, he gave all of their belongings to those less fortunate. An example of his kindness was when he was serving as bishop. St. Nicholas heard of three young girls whose father was going to sell them as slaves. He did what he thought was best and used the church’s funds to throw three bags of gold into the family’s window, sparing the girls. St. Nicholas became legendary in his community and was known to all as a saintly man.
Many St. Nicholas Day traditions originated from St. Nicholas’ generosity and still exist today. One of these includes leaving little gifts in children’s shoes, from which American Christmas stockings developed. The good kids get treats such as candies and cookies while the naughty boys and girls get coal! In fact, German children still leave a shoe outside their doors on St. Nicholas Day Eve hoping to find candy or a small gift on the morning of December 6th.
In the Netherlands, Dutch children leave their shoes in front of their chimneys hoping “Sint Nikolaas” or “Sinterklass” and his helper “Zwarte Piet” (Black Pete who would arrive on horseback) would visit them during the night. Filling their shoes with hay and carrots, Dutch children hope to find candy and gifts the next day.
Do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day? Go out of your way to do something kind today in honor of St. Nicholas!