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St. Nicholas Day

Tomorrow is Saint Nicholas Day. That means children across Europe will be leaving their shoes outside or beside the fireplace in hope that St. Nicholas will fill them with treats tonight.

This December 6th holiday recognizes the third-century saint who became an inspiration for the modern-day Santa Claus.

The real St. Nicholas is known for selling all his possessions and giving his money to the poor. Raised as a devout Christian, St. Nicholas dedicated his whole life to serving the sick and suffering.

Legendary stories about St. Nicholas later become part of the inspiration for the modern-day Santa Claus. For example, during the third century, a daughter’s chances of marriage increased when her father offered a large dowry to prospective husbands. One story tells of a poor father with three daughters. He had no dowry to offer.

Traditionally, families left their shoes by the fires at night so that they could dry. On three separate occasions, Ol’ St. Nicholas provided a dowry for each girl. Legend says he made gold appear in their shoes, drying by the fire.

While St. Nicholas Day is not to be confused with Christmas, some similarities do exist. Traditions include leaving gifts in shoes (or stockings) or the exchange of small gifts. Another tradition suggests leaving treats for good boys and girls. However, the naughty ones receive a twig or chunk of coal.


  • He is the patron saint of a great many causes. Some of the causes include sailors, travelers, clergy, school children, and thieves, to name a few.
  • He was born on March 15, 270 AD in the village of Patara, located on the southwestern coast of modern-day Turkey.
  • Buried in a tomb in Myra, water believed to have healing powers formed in his grave. It is called the Manna of Saint Nicholas.
  • December 6th is also known as The Feast of St. Nicholas, widely celebrated in Europe.


Incorporate some Saint Nicholas Day traditions into your holiday season. Slip a gift or surprise into someone’s shoe. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.

  • You could leave a special note or a small wrapped piece of chocolate.
  • Leave a coin or an ornament for the tree.
  • Tuck a stress ball or a new pair of socks into a loved one’s pair of shoes.