Tonight, children all around the world will hang their stockings or set their shoes by the back door before bed. They will then have to try and contain their excitement until the morning to see what goodies St. Nick has brought. St. Nicholas sounds astonishingly similar to Santa Claus, so why exactly do we celebrate St. Nick Day two and a half weeks prior to Christmas?
St. Nicholas was born during the 3rd Century in the village of Patara, land now known as Turkey. Nicholas was taught, at an early age, the value of helping the less fortunate. He inherited his parents’ wealth after they died in a tragic epidemic. Nicholas then gave it all away to help the sick, the needy and the suffering.
He wanted to help people in secret. Nicholas’ signature gesture was to leave small bags of gold in stockings and shoes. He became known all around the land for his generosity.
St. Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration to honor his life. The Feast of St. Nicholas has been celebrated since that time in Europe; however, the tradition followed the first American immigrants.
Throughout the years, the custom has been changed. In the United States, St. Nicholas has become the model for the modern day Santa Claus. Although St. Nicholas Day is celebrated by a few, Christmas remains the primary gift-giving holiday.
Do you celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas? If so, how do you observe the holiday?