Happy St. Nicholas Day! Today we celebrate the feast of this fourth century saint. He was the Bishop of Myra and was known for his generosity and love for children. St. Nicholas lived under the rule of Diocletian and was exiled and imprisoned. After his release from prison, he attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Today is the anniversary of his death in 343 AD.
There are many accounts of St. Nicholas’ good deeds regarding giving to the poor and his love for children. You can read many of these here.
“Widely celebrated in Europe, St. Nicholas’ feast day, December 6th, kept alive the stories of his goodness and generosity. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor—and sometimes for themselves! In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrived on a steamship from Spain to ride a white horse on his gift-giving rounds. December 6th is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe. For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts, and riddles. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift-giving in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child.”