The tradition of Saint Nicholas Day, usually on 6 December (19 December in most Orthodox countries), is a festival for children in many countries in Europe related to surviving legends of the saint, and particularly his reputation as a bringer of gifts. The American Santa Claus, as well as the British Father Christmas, derive from these legends. "Santa Claus" is itself derived in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas.
It’s not celebrated much in the U.S. – although there has been some awareness of the holiday in Wisconsin – but in Northern Europe St. Nicholas Day is a big thing. Traditional celebrations included gifts left in children’s shoes (from which American Christmas stockings developed).
Good children receive treats – candies, cookies, apples and nuts – while naughty children receive lumps of coal. In Germany, children still put a shoe outside their bedroom doors on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, and hope to find candy, coins and maybe a small gift in them on Dec. 6. In the Netherlands, children put their shoes in front of their chimneys in hopes of finding chocolate or a small toy in their shoe when they wake (from http://www.stnicksday.com/).
At my children's school they leave their shoes outside the doors of their rooms and St. Nicholas brings them candy...It is also the day on which they receive their Secret Santa assignments.
This morning, the Weathertops woke up to find a surprise in their shoes.
You can't imagine how excited the little ones were.
Jem was just beside himself with glee. He has quite a sweet tooth, you know. Ebby Puttence will have a hard time getting him to settle down to work today.
Sophie was bit more measured in her excitement. She plans to make her stash last until Christmas Day.
But the little ones were not the only ones to receive a surprise, the big kids got their share as well.
Hitty Dauphine didn't mind having a little something toothsome for breakfast as well.
Looking at all that candy makes my teeth hurt.
Happy St. Nicholas Day and sixth day of Advent.
There are 18 days left until Christmas.