The History and Tradition of St Nick's Day
When I was a child, we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day every December 6th. We didn't use Christmas stockings at Christmas, but for St Nick Day instead. My mother would buy oranges, tangerines, apples and candy to fill our stockings.
The tangerines were a big treat since we didn't get them very often. This tradition was anticipated almost as much as Christmas itself. We'd get our treats after supper. St Nicholas was a saint and I'm not sure what we thought Santa was. In later years and in different countries the idea of Santa Claus or Kris Kringle was a celebration of St Nick. They were all the same person.
Early Tradition of St Nick
The very early tradition of Saint Nicholas Day was that the children would place their boots and shoes near the fireplace at night and receive the same types of treats that we did. In most European countries, they still celebrate the day by children putting out their shoes and boots before going to bed.
The children believe that St Nick keeps track of their sins throughout the year in his little book, very much like Santa Claus does. If the child was good all year they get their treats, but if they have been naughty and committed too many sins they would get twigs and small branches stuffed in their shoes. We always got our treats and I know we didn't always deserve them.
Martin Luther also tried to do away with the tradition of St Nick’s day and his giving of gifts on December 6th, because along with the other changes of the Reformation came the end of glorifying saints. His endeavors weren’t successful.
St Nick's Day is celebrated mainly by members of the Catholic and Episcopalian Church. As a child I was brought up Catholic, so we celebrated this day. Later with my own children, I celebrated the day for a few years and then became a born again Christian and dropped the celebration.
St Nicholas is the popular name for Nikolkaos of Myra. Myra was a province of Lycia where Nikolkaos was a bishop. Lycia is now known as an area in Turkey. Later he was canonized a saint. He lived from 270-346 AD. The tradition of St Nick's Day began because he helped others by placing a coin in a needy person's shoe or boot when they didn't know. This is also how the tradition of the Christmas stocking began. Instead of using the shoe or boot, we use a Christmas stocking.
St Nick is considered the patron saint of children, thieves, Russia and many other countries, sailors, merchants, students, and even the patron saint of New York City. He has been specially designated the patron saint of children.
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