December 6: St. Nicholas Day

St Nicholas "Lipensky," a Russian icon from Lipnya Church of St. Nicholas in NovgorodOn December 6, 343 AD, the man who sparked the legends of Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, and Santa Claus passed away. Very little is known for certain about his life, but it’s generally accepted that the man lived in what’s now modern Turkey and that he liked to give gifts away, particularly to children and in secret.

Today his feast day is celebrated in a great variety of ways. In parts of Europe, especially the German and French speaking areas as well as some Central European countries, St. Nicholas Day is as big or bigger than the celebration at Christmas.

A painting by Gentile da Fabriano, showing Nicholas leaving dowries for the poor man's three daughters.In Belgium, children often leave their shoes filled with hay, carrots, or some other present for St. Nicholas’s horse. The next day, they find the hay or carrots gone, and, in its place, small gifts or candy. Other presents may be arranged in the living room, hidden in the house, or left in a large bag by the door or window.

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Matthew 7:11



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