Saint Nicholas Day is observed on December 6 every year in the United States and is also known as the Feast Of Saint Nicholas.
It is a Christian festival that honors Saint Nicholas- the 4th-century Bishop of Myra. He is one of the most notable saints ever to exist and became loved for his kindness and charitable nature and is also known as the patron saint of Greece and Russia.
When it comes to giving out gifts, love, and spreading happiness, especially during this time of the year, Santa Claus is the only figure we can think of.
He rewards the good people and scolds the bad ones. However, the concept of Santa Claus was inspired by Saint Nicholas. He was also known as Father Christmas, Papa Noel, and Kris Kringle.
He was a bishop who not only did great charity, often anonymously but also condemned the unjust.
St. Nicholas was officially recognized as a saint somewhere around the 800s. However, he did not leave any notes or anything behind. All the stories and legends we have about him are passed down over the generations through word of mouth.
It is believed that Saint Nicholas passed away on December 6 and that is how the celebration of Saint Nicholas Day began.
Although there are no confirmations as to when and where the first celebration first began, there are speculations that Catholics in France started celebrating Bishop Nicholas Day on December 6.
The Celebrations Of Saint Nicholas Day
As the name already implies, the Feast Of Saint Nicholas also includes having a huge feast with your close ones. On Saint Nicholas's Eve, people dress up and go out on the street to share chocolates, candies, and other gifts. Children hang their socks outside with carrots and hay inside with the hope that Saint Nick will come and fill them up with gifts.
In Netherlands and Belgium, a man would dress up as the saint and would come by ship on December 6. He will then ride on a white horse going across the towns to hand out gifts.
Another popular belief implies that you can also leave out shoes instead of socks for gifts. The classic candy cane is also a sign of Saint. Nicholas Day celebrations.
According to traditions in France, a donkey carries a basket full of sweet treats throughout the town.
The popular St. Nick's Day treat is the Sinterklaas cookies or cake (since St. Nick was also known as Sinterklaas) which is made up of ginger. Also popularly known as Speculaas, these cookies are often baked in the shape of St. Nicholas.
Another popular German tradition indicates that children should dress up as Saint Nicholas and collect money or food to donate to the needy.
People also started another fun tradition where they leave a statue of an angel on the doorsteps of people with a gift and it would sort of start a chain reaction.
To put it together, Saint Nicholas is the epitome of compassion, generosity, and kindness, and to carry his legacy, we celebrate St. Nicholas Day.
Here are some interesting facts about Saint Nicholas:
- Some countries celebrate St. Nicks Day on December 5 and Eastern Christian countries celebrate it on December 19.
- Saint Nicholas lost his parents to a plague and inherited a large amount of wealth that he donated anonymously to various good deeds.
- Saint Nick became a bishop at the age of 30 and thus referred to as "boy bishop".
- The name Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch pronunciation of his name "Sinterklaas".
- Tradition has it that on St. Nicks day, you give out oranges, candies and chocolates.