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|Saint Nicholas Day|
|Observed by||Anglicanism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Methodism, Reformed|
|Significance||Feast day of Saint Nicholas|
|Celebrations||placing shoes in the foyer before bedtime|
|Observances||Attending Mass or other service of worship|
|Date||5/6 December (Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity on the New Calendar); 19 December (Eastern Christianity on the Old Calendar)|
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
Traditionally, in Germany boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor.
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.
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).