We all know the story of St. Nicholas, right? How he would, each December, slip through the sleepy streets of his hometown and put gifts in the wooden shoes of children. Their shrieks of delight and joy would fill the morning air, bringing new life and renewed hope to the community, and providing needed support to poor families.
This feeling of joy, and the financial support he provided to families, earned him sainthood.
Many of us have gotten the legend just a little bit wrong, though. We rightly associate him with Santa Claus, who, like St. Nicholas, brings gifts. Like St. Nicholas, Santa Claus comes in December.
But there the similarities end.
Santa Claus has help
Santa has a whole Christmas industry designed to help him. There’s a toy workshop staffed with countless elves, working on Christmas lists and fulfilling Christmas dreams all year ‘round.
When it is time to deliver the presents, he summons his eight reindeer – or nine, depending on the weather. If it’s foggy he needs Rudolph and his red nose.
As he climbs up and down chimneys all night, he gets multiple plates of cookies and glasses of milk to keep his energy up. And he of course is warmed by the memories of Mrs. Claus, stirring cinnamon in his warm cider and awaiting his return at the end of a long day of delivering gifts.
And around the world, parents help by giving some gifts for their children too, usually placed alongside Santa’s gift under the tree.
St. Nicholas Day is December 6
But traditionalists know that we honor St. Nicholas on December 6th. That morning, children around the world awake to find their stockings stuffed with all sorts of treats.
There is usually a piece of fruit and a piece of chocolate and some coins. This echoes the historic roots of the actual story of St. Nicholas, the person. These are the very gifts he would leave in the wooden shoes of the children.
Over time, though, the stocking has become more and more full. There’s a range of gifts available. Small, practical daily items like batteries or tiny gifts that might otherwise be hard to wrap for Christmas. Your child might also find their favorite candy, or a gift card for their favorite product or store.
Make the Christmas season more magical by adding a true St. Nicholas Day this year!