Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas Day
Presov Slovakia 2048.JPG
A depiction of Saint Nicholas with his sack standing next to a Nativity Scene
Observed byAnglicanism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Methodism, Reformed[1][2]
TypeChristian
SignificanceFeast day of Saint Nicholas
Celebrationsplacing shoes in the foyer before bedtime
ObservancesAttending Mass or other service of worship
Date5/6 December (Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity on the New Calendar); 19 December (Eastern Christianity on the Old Calendar)
Frequencyannual

Saint Nicholas Day, also called the Feast of Saint Nicholas, is observed on 6 December or on 5 December in Western Christian countries, and on 19 December in Eastern Christian countries using the old church Calendar. It is the feast day of Nicholas of Myra with particular regard to his reputation as a bringer of gifts.

In the European countries of Germany and Poland, boys have traditionally dressed as bishops and begged alms for the poor.[3] In Ukraine and Poland, children wait for St. Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows provided that the children were good during the year. Children who behaved badly may expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows. In the Netherlands, Dutch children put out a clog filled with hay and a carrot for Saint Nicholas' horse. On Saint Nicholas Day, gifts are tagged with personal humorous rhymes written by the sender.[4] In the United States, one custom associated with Saint Nicholas Day is children leaving their shoes in the foyer on Saint Nicholas Eve in hope that Saint Nicholas will place some coins on the soles.[5]

The American Santa Claus, as well as the British Father Christmas, derive from Saint Nicholas. "Santa Claus" is itself derived in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas, the saint's name in that language. However, the gift giving associated with these descendant figures is associated with Christmas Day rather than Saint Nicholas Day itself.[6]

  1. ^ Marzec, Robert P. (1 January 2004). The Mid-Atlantic Region. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 100. ISBN 9780313329548. The influence of the Dutch Reformed Church represents the primary Dutch contribution to the culture of the region, along with holiday traditions such as New Year's Day and the St. Nicholas tradition.
  2. ^ Burton-Edwards, Taylor (28 October 2015). "A Saint Nicholas Day Feast". The United Methodist Church.
  3. ^ Baird, David (1 September 2005). Christmas: Decorations, Feasts, Gifts, Traditions. Lagardère Publishing. ISBN 9781840727173. Traditionally, in Germany boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor.
  4. ^ Peoples of Europe: Lithuania-Netherlands. Marshall Cavendish. 2002. p. 343. ISBN 9780761473848.
  5. ^ Carus, Louise (1 October 2002). The Real St. Nicholas. Quest Books. p. 2. ISBN 9780835608138. In Myra, the traditional St. Nicholas Feast Day is still celebrated on December 6, which many believe to be the anniversary of St. Nicholas' death. This day is honored throughout Western Christendom, in lands combrising both Catholic and Protestant communities (in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Saint's feast date is December 19). On December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day, some American boys and girls put their shoes outside their bedroom door and leave a small gift in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there.
  6. ^ Keshen, Jeff; St-Onge, Nicole J. M. (2001). Ottawa--making a Capital. University of Ottawa Press. p. 266. ISBN 9780776605210. After having lost their regular mass, Slovaks gathered as a group for religious services only twice a year: on St. Nicholas Day and at the multicultural mass organized by the Archdiocese of Ottawa. To Slovaks, as to other Central Europeans, St. Nicholas was the original "Santa Claus," and it was he who brought presents to the children. In mainstream North America, the St. Nicholas Day celebration (6 December) has somehow been moved to Christmas day (25 December).