Have you ever wondered when is Saint Nicholas Day or are you interested in this holiday and are curious to learn more?
Whatever your queries are, here are some answers to your questions like what is St Nicholas Day? Who was St Nicholas? When is Saint Nicholas Day? What to do on that day? and many such questions.
Who Was The Real St Nicholas?
Nicholas was born to a wealthy couple in the village of Patara in Turkey (which was a part of Greece then). Unfortunately, both his parents passed away in an epidemic while he was still very young.
Little Nicholas was however a strong child who was raised as a Christian and then dedicated his whole life to the service of the poor and the needy. He sold all his belongings and used his inheritance to help the unfortunate.
Eventually, Nicholas became a bishop, and his reputation for helping children, women, sailors, and the needy spread all around the world.
For this, the Roman emperor Diocletian along with other religious men persecuted and imprisoned Nicholas. St Nicholas spent days in prison until he was released because the jails were full of clergy and there was no place left to convict thieves and murderers.
Upon his release, Nicholas continued with his charity work of generosity till his death on December 6, A.D. 343. It was after his death that his grave was believed to secrete some kind of liquid that had healing powers.
His charity, kindness, and generosity influenced and inspired people of many countries around the world and his caring acts led to the establishment of this widely celebrated holiday commemorating his death.
Was Saint Nicholas Really A Santa Claus?
The questions about this day like, when is Saint Nicholas Day, what happens on that day, what do people do, what do people wear, are bound to spark another curious question – “Was Saint Nicholas actually a Santa Claus?”
A few legends about St Nicholas which have been passed down generations actually relate a lot to the tales of Father Christmas.
The first story is about a poor man and his three daughters. This man could not afford to pay the dowry for the marriage of his daughters and thus the girls would become prone to being sold for slavery. Mysteriously, however, as each girl was at the age to get married, a bag of gold or balls made of gold or some versions of the same were thrown in through the window in a sock or shoe near the hearth.
The unknown gift giver was assumed to be St Nicholas, and this inspired the tradition of keeping socks or shoes to be filled up with gifts.
Another legend dates long after St Nicholas passed away. During his home village, during a celebration of St Nicholas Day, a boy was kidnapped and made a slave to the neighbouring region’s emir.
The family was of course very unhappy and grieved for a year, and refused to leave their home on the next St Nicholas Day. The story follows that Nicholas’ spirit appeared, whisked the boy away from his kidnappers, and deposited him in his house with the gold cup with which he was serving emir, still in his hands.
Thus, Saint Nicholas again became the patron saint and a protector of children and the needy.
What Is Saint Nicholas Day?
Before getting into when is Saint Nicholas Day, let’s learn about what this holiday commemorates. Saint Nicholas Day celebrates the life of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a fourth-century bishop who achieved sainthood after his death.
There is one story of a saint who left gold for three daughters whose father could not afford to pay their dowry. Have you ever wondered who helped the poor man and his daughters? That was Saint Nicholas.
Although very little is known about his life, the generosity and kindness of Saint Nicholas towards everyone, especially the poor and the unfortunate forms the basis of this celebration. He was even believed to have some healing powers too.
Saint Nicholas Day traditions include well-behaved children receiving gifts for their good deeds, families singing Sinterklaas songs, leaving gifts inside shoes in front of the fireplace, and many more.
When Is Saint Nicholas Day?
Now that you know about the day, the next question must be “when is Saint Nicholas Day?”
Well, Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6 in most European countries and other places around the world to commemorate Saint Nicholas’s death and to celebrate his generous and kind life. Just like Christmas celebrations start on Christmas Eve, some people start their celebrations on St Nicholas Eve, which is December 5.
On the other hand, Eastern Christian countries that still use the Julian Calendar, like the Orthodox Church of Russia, can celebrate St Nicholas Day on December 19. So, if you are wondering when is Saint Nicholas Day, the answer might vary in different countries.
Generally also known as Nick’s Day, this day on December 6 truly marks the genuine spirit of the upcoming Christmas Eve and Holidays.
Which Religions Celebrate St Nicholas Day?
The next question after “when is Saint Nicholas Day?” is about who can celebrate the day.
Since Saint Nicholas of Myra was a saint in the catholic church, Saint Nicholas Day is primarily celebrated as a Christian holiday and is popular among the European Catholic and German Lutheran populations.
However, as the life of Saint Nicholas was about generosity and kindness towards others, this day does not need to be just a religious tradition. You can always slip in a gift or some token of appreciation to commemorate this day, show kindness, and start the winter holiday season with a little bit of generosity and happiness.
Saint Nicholas Day Traditions
You now know when is Saint Nicholas Day, why it is celebrated, and what it celebrates. But do you know that this day is actually marked by several beautiful traditions that you can cherish too?
So, along with knowing when is Saint Nicholas Day, get to know the heartwarming holiday traditions so that you can celebrate this day this year.
1. Saint Nicholas Day Parades
The Saint Nicholas Day celebration begins with a parade in the Netherland, that marks the arrival of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas in Dutch) from Spain. Nearly every town and city street is filled up with annual Saint Nicholas Day parades, featuring Saint Nicholas in a carriage or a horse, or in a helicopter,
In the time between his arrival and Saint Nicholas Day, Sinterklaas travels from home to home and leaves small gifts for the little well-behaved children. In turn, the Dutch children leave some water, hay, treats, letters, or carrots for Saint Nicholas’ white horse (or donkey).
2. Leaving Out Shoes
On the eve of St Nicholas Day, children leave shoes or boots in front of the fireplace or the front door, or the bedroom door and wish to receive gifts from Saint Nicholas over the night. Just like Santa Clause leaves coal in the socks of naughty children on Christmas Day, Saint Nicholas is known for leaving sticks in people’s shoes to punish children.
Irrespective of their conduct, however, all children receive some sort of a small gift like candy canes, hot chocolate, gold or foreign coins, or oranges symbolizing St Nicholas’ gold balls, and other things. This small present celebrates the spirit of this gift-giving festival and also spreads happiness and cheer.
3. Saint Nicholas Feast Day
This fun holiday includes the feast of St Nicholas too. Celebrated on the eve of the traditional St Nicholas Day, the Sinterklaasavond (Sinterklaas evening) is marked by big and generous feasts, gift-giving, and overall family cheer.
Families sing Sinterklaas songs and enjoy the feast of St Nicholas which includes delicious foods like Bishop’s wine, loaves of bread, St. Nicholas-shaped cookies, and of course some special main dishes. In France, the main dish can be pork with mustard and apples, while in Germany, you may savour Pfannkuchen or German pancakes.
Then, of course, there are traditional St. Nicholas pizzas, soups, pastries, and other delightful delicacies to top off the St Nicholas Feast Day.
4. Sinterklaas Cookies
Wait! Do not forget the tasty Sinterklaas Cookies. Celebrating St Nicholas Day can never be complete without the delicious cookies. These spicy, ginger cookies, often baked in the mould of Saint Nicholas top off the celebration with a bang.
5. The Candy Cane
Another symbol of St Nicholas is the candy canes which represent his staff. Add small candy canes to decorate the tree, or slip some into the waiting shoes. You are allowed to sneak in a few for yourself too.
6. Gifts For Unmarried Women
Saint Nicholas’ legends were not only about the children and the poor – he protected the maidens too.
This gave rise to the tradition in Italy where not only children are the ones receiving gifts, unmarried women were on the list too. They also may participate in the special Rito Delle Nubili, a ritual where the maidens turn a column seven times to find out and change their luck in finding their spouse.
7. Krampus Night
Not everything is bright and happy during St Nicholas Day. Around the world, various menacing versions of Krampus are seen on this night leaving coal in socks, out to punish children who had been naughty.
You are likely to bump into Krampus in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, dressed as a frightening half man and half goat, borrowing its features from beasts, demons, and devils.
What To Wear On Saint Nicholas Day?
Where are you, fashion divas? While this day does not specifically call for some dress codes, it surely gives an opportunity to dress up to the occasion. After all, the occasion is about brightening up each other’s day, and what better way to do it than dress up beautifully.
The classic Saint Nicholas dress inspires your clothing. Play with its colours like gold, orange, red, white, and blend them with the essence of winter to create a bright, comfortable, and happy dress for the event.
What To Gift On Saint Nick’s Day?
You know when is Saint Nicholas day, and you know the St Nicholas day traditions, but are you wondering what to put in your shoes this gift-giving season?
Oranges and candy canes certainly spark up the St Nicholas Day traditions, but why not spice up the day with a few more gifts this year? Here are 20 random small gift ideas that are fun as well as sweet:
- Personalized crayons.
- Personalized gloves.
- Small personalized plush toys.
- The UNO card game.
- Pop sockets cell phone grips.
- Mystery figurines for your child to play with.
- Disney princess themed lip balms (no more chapped lips for your little girl this year).
- Harmonica (a small but intriguing musical instrument).
- Puzzle balls.
- Plush socks.
- Magical charm bracelets and key rings.
- Cotton candy.
- Pens, stationaries, and bookmarks.
- Small jewellery and hair accessories.
- Paint sets.
- Travel-sized board games.
- A piggy bank (to teach your kid about saving their money).
- Last but not the least, toys.
Interesting Books And Movies on Saint Nicholas Day
Since you now know when is Saint Nicholas Day and all about how to celebrate it, here are some tips to personalize the day for your own family.
After all the traditions are over, snuggle in with your family for a holiday special book or a movie.
- Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend (Book written by Julie Stiegemeyer).
- The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving (Book by Dandi Daley Mackall).
- The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale (an amazing book by Aaron Shepard).
- The Miracle of the Wooden Shoes (Book by Deborah P. Rowley).
- The Real St. Nicholas: Tales of Generosity and Hope from Around the World (Book put down by Louise Carus).
- A Boy Called Christmas.
- Saint Nicholas: The Real Story.
- Nicholas of Myra, which is about the Story of Saint Nicholas.
- Winky’s Horse (Het paard van Sinterklaas).
Celebrate the Day with Great Alas
Hopefully, your curious little heart now knows when is Saint Nicholas Day.
Knowing when is Saint Nicholas Day gives people the preparation and enthusiasm to celebrate the occasion with mirth and cheer. Bring in some kindness and generosity and help to commemorate the spirit of the caring St Nicholas on December 6 in your very unique way.