Saint Nicholas Day

December 6 is St. Nicholas Day throughout Europe where the real man who evolved into our American Santa Claus actually lived in the 3rd -4th Century.  Born to a merchant family, he was already quite devout when his parents died, leaving him a sizable inheritance. Following the actions of Jesus, he then began to give away all his money. He dedicated his life to serving God and later became the Bishop of Myra. Persecuted by the Romans, he later was released from prison and attended the Council of Nicea. Upon his death, a liquid which produced healing appeared on his tomb.

Celebration of St. Nicholas Day in Europe involves gift giving to children on December 6, not December 25. Gifts on Christmas or Christmas Eve in some nations are generally only for adults.  Shoes, not stockings, are left out for gifts.

It is interesting to realize that the American custom of Santa Claus is exactly that, an American elaboration of the original Saint Nicholas celebration. 

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