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St. Nicholas' Day - A festive long-held tradition

St Nicholas Day

A long held tradition over the festive period

Each year before Christmas, Santa Claus has a lot of work. Contrary to what you might expect, my task (as Santa) does not end with bringing presents to well-behaved children on wintery Christmas morning. My day (my feast day) celebrated on the sixth of December also creates a responsibility for me. The day, known as St. Nicholas’ Day, has a great long history. The beginnings of this tradition can be found in the Middle Ages. On this day, all nice children who have done some good deeds receive small gifts from me. When on the night from the fifth to the sixth of December I arrive at the homes of children all over the world, I am greeted with very nice little gestures which clearly show that in those houses well-behaved little ones are waiting for me.

In many houses you can smell the aroma of gingerbread as soon as you enter (it’s a good sign that Christmas is approaching!). As I go inside the child’s room, I see a little one looking so sweet in their sleep, who is probably dreaming about something really nice, because I can see them smiling. Depending on the country I am visiting, I come across various items prepared especially for me to put a present inside. In America, it is usually big woollen stockings which also seem to be very warm (most often they are hanging on the fireplace – but not always). In Poland, I usually see different kinds of shoes waiting for me – usually one shoe from a pair. According to the tradition of St. Nicholas’ Day, the shoes should be well cleaned, because otherwise Santa may not leave a gift inside them.

In many other countries children wait for a gift to appear under their pillow during the night from the fifth to the sixth of December – I will admit that it is often a big challenge to place a present under the pillow so that the child sleeping on it doesn’t wake up (whatever happens, they should not see me!). The tradition of St. Nicholas’ Day has many names and is celebrated in such countries as, for example: Italy, Czech Republic, Denmark, the USA, Germany and of course Poland as I mentioned earlier. In all those countries well-behaved children impatiently wait for Santa until they drift off into their sleep, and that is when the nice man with a long grey beard quietly sneaks into their room to leave the gift they have been waiting for. 

But see also: letters from Santa Claus


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