St Nicolas Day is observed on December 6th in the West, although in the East Christian countries it is celebrated on the 19th. If you don’t know who St Nicolas is, you’ll more than likely still know of his American version Santa Claus, or the British version of Father Christmas. The latter two give their presents on Christmas Day, but this saint gives his out on the 6th.
The History of St Nicholas Day
The actual Saint Nicolas was a man born in Turkey during the Roman Empire, who lived a life of Christianity from a very young age. He is written off as being an especially benevolent soul, caring for children and helping the poor and sick when he could.
We couldn’t pinpoint the exact date that St Nicolas Day first came into being, but it seems that this day has been observed for a long time, honoring the saint that would become the basis for the beloved Santa Claus.
How to Celebrate St Nicholas Day
One thing that St Nicolas was known for, according to the records we have of his time, was giving small gifts in secret – usually of money. One thing he was said to do was leave coins in shoes which were left out for him; this would translate into the Christmas stocking we hang on our mantelpieces.
Across the globe, St Nicolas Day is celebrated with parades, feasts, even festivals. Plenty of children in different parts of Europe will wake up to presents on this day, and its also another date for the grown-ups to have an excuse to crack open a bottle of alcohol – or two.
St Nicolas has an evil counterpart too in some parts of the world; in Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary – the demonic Krampus comes around to punish misbehaving children with the threat of capturing them in a basket or sack and carrying them down to a fiery damnation…quite a strong contrast to kindly old St Nic.
If you want to celebrate this saint, join hundreds of thousands of observers all over the world by hanging up a stocking, or leaving out a shoe so St Nicholas can fill it during the night. Give your friends and family a surprise to wake up to on the 6th and pop some chocolate coins in their coat pocket, or simply get your loved ones together and raise a glass to the spirit of benevolence and good cheer.