December 6th, Saint Nicholas Day recognizes the third-century saint who became an inspiration for the modern-day Santa Claus.
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.
Interesting facts associated with St. Nicholas:
- 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 in the village of Patar, located on the southeastern 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.