St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6 each year. Western Christians sometimes begin observation of the holiday the evening before December 5. In Eastern Christian countries, celebrations usually occur on December 19.
Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about this special day.
When is St. Nicholas Day?
Saint Nicholas Day is a holiday celebration held on December 6 annually.
Why do we celebrate Saint Nicholas Day?
This day of celebration is dedicated to Saint Nicholas — a man of faith devoted to Christ and benevolence to the needy. The holiday is also known as the Feast of Saint Nicholas.
St. Nicholas Day Traditions: To celebrate the holiday, children set out their shoes before going to bed in hopes of receiving a gift from Saint Nicholas left in the shoes. Many people attend mass or worship services on this day and focus the holiday on giving instead of receiving and providing compassion and charity for the needy.
Who celebrates St. Nicholas Day?
The following religious denominations celebrate Saint Nicholas Day:
Eastern Orthodox Church
How do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day?
There are many ways to honor the spirit of Saint Nicholas Day. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Children place their shoes at a spot in their homes in hopes that Saint Nick will leave presents of candy, coins, and gifts. For many folks, it’s near the fireplace.
Give grocery gift cards to the homeless or families in need.
Drop off wrapped gifts and clothes to community shelters for Saint Nicholas Day.
Give an anonymous gift to someone you know who is in need or down on their luck.
Donate your time to assist at food shelters. Involve your children so they can learn the true lesson of giving on Saint Nicholas Day.
What are the St Nicholas Day traditions?
Here is a sampling of Saint Nicholas Day traditions around the world:
Germany and Poland: In these European countries, there is a tradition of boys dressing as bishops, begging alms for the poor on Saint Nicholas Day.
Ukraine: In Ukraine, well-behaved children wait in anticipation of the gift Saint Nicholas puts under their pillows at night. If they were bad, they might find a lump of coal or a twig instead.
The Netherlands: Kids in the Netherlands place out a clog filled with hay and a carrot for St Nicholas’ horse. Gifts are also exchanged, usually tagged with funny rhymes.
United States: American children leave their shoes in the foyer for Saint Nicholas the evening before Saint Nicholas Day, hoping he will place coins or a gift inside them.
Why do you put your shoes out for Saint Nicholas Day?
Children put their shoes out on the eve before Saint Nicholas Day in hopes that he will leave a treat or gift inside them.
Saint Nicholas FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about St. Nicholas.
Who was St. Nicholas?
St Nicholas of Myra was a Christian bishop of Greek descent who lived in the 4th century. He came from the ancient Greek town of Myra, where he was once a bishop.
Known as a generous bringer of gifts, Saint Nicholas became the real-life inspiration for Santa Claus. Over his life, he gained a reputation as a secret gift-giver. It is said the benevolent saint sold all his possessions so he could give money to the poor.
What is St Nicholas’ connection to Santa Claus?
The American Santa Claus and British Father Christmas figures both derive from the life and story of Saint Nicholas. In fact, the name Santa Claus derives from the Dutch ‘Sinterklaas,’ meaning Saint Nicholas.
What was St Nick also known as?
Saint Nicholas was also known as Nicholas of Bari and Nicholas the Wonderworker (because of the many miracles he performed).
Who is St Nicholas the patron saint of?
St Nicholas is the patron saint of many things, including:
As you can see from the list above, good ol’ St. Nick must cover a lot of ground.
St. Nicholas Fun Facts
He was born in Patara, Lycia—a Greek seaport town.
His parents were wealthy Christians.
He is said to have rescued three girls from prostitution by dropping off bags of gold coins through the windows of their homes so the girl’s fathers would be able to pay off their dowries.
One legend claims that Saint Nicholas calmed the stormy seas, thereby saving three soldiers from being wrongfully executed.
Another says he chopped down a tree purportedly possessed by a demon.
Some scholars believe Saint Nicholas attended the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.
Relics from his sarcophagus are rumored to exude ‘manna’ or ‘myrrh’—a watery substance of miraculous and supernatural distinction.
St. Nick Captions for Instagram
Up to snow good!
We love you deerly.
Believe in your elf.
You rock my Christmas socks!
Jingle all the way.
Best in Snow!
Believe in St. Nick… just beClause!
Hanging it up for the night.
St. Nicholas Day — That’s a wrap!
All the world is happy when St. Nicholas comes.
Nick at Night!
Works one night a year and spends the rest judging.
What are some Saint Nicholas Day hashtags?
The truth is that our way of celebrating the Christmas season does spring from myriad cultures and sources, from St. Nicholas to Coca-Cola advertising campaigns.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. …
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
Clement Clarke Moore
Everybody loves St Nicholas because St. Nicholas loves everybody.
Fr. Andrew Phillips
The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic God’s giving, by grace, and through faith, and this is not of ourselves.
St. Nicholas of Myra
Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus! There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.
Francis P. Church
Never deny the babies their Christmas! It is the shining seal set upon a year of happiness. Let them believe in Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, or Kriss Kringle, or whatever name the jolly Dutch saint bears in your religion.
Mary Virginia Terhune
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky. So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
Clement Clarke Moore
St. Nicholas reminds us of God’s love, God coming amongst the ordinariness of us, arriving amongst the noise and sound, ready for us to set out on our journey. My wish for all of us as we come to Christmas this year mindful of cracks in our society, mindful of people in need because let’s not forget those who are hungry and homeless this Christmas. But in the heart of all this, God comes and says, ‘You are my children. I love you. Serve my folk.’
Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover
I’m as true a Protestant, in sooth, as any fine lady that walks into a church, but it’s not wrong to turn sometimes to the good St. Nicholas.
Mary Mapes Dodge
Children, I beseech you to correct your hearts and thoughts so that you may be pleasing to God. Consider that although we may reckon ourselves to be righteous and frequently succeed in deceiving men, we can conceal nothing from God.
Let us, therefore, strive to preserve the holiness of our souls and to guard the purity of our bodies with all fervor. Ye are the temple of God, says the divine Apostle Paul; If any man defiles the temple of God, he shall God destroy.
St. Nicholas of Myra
Anne Frank on St. Nicholas
Once again, St. Nicholas Day
Has even come to our hideaway;
It won’t be quite as fun, I fear,
As the happy day, we had last year.
Then we were hopeful, no reason to doubt
That optimism would win the bout,
And by the time this year came round,
We’d all be free and safe and sound.
Still, let’s not forget it’s St. Nicholas Day,
Though we’ve nothing left to give away.
We’ll have to find something else to do:
So everyone, please look in their shoe!?
— Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
St. Nicholas prayers
O good holy Nicholas,
you who brought joy to children,
put in my heart the spirit of childhood
about which the Gospel speaks.
Teach me how to sow
happiness around me. Amen.
— Catholic Greeting
Hierarch and Father, O most holy Nicholas, thou extraordinary Saint of the Lord, our loving defender and ready helper in sorrows everywhere: help us sinners and hapless ones in the present life: entreat the Lord God to grant us the remission of all of our sins, that we have committed from our youth and all our life, by deed word, though and all our senses; and in the passing of our souls, help us wretched ones; entreat the Lord God and Maker of all creation, to deliver us from trials in the air and eternal torment: that we may always glorify the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and thy merciful intercession, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen
— Fr. John Shaw
Prayers to Saint Nicholas
We thank You
For the example
Of St. Nicholas,
Who fed the hungry,
Brought hope to
to the lost,
the truth to all.
May we strive
to imitate him
by putting You first
in all we do.
Give us the courage,
Love and strength
of St. Nicholas, so that,
Like Him, we may serve
You through loving
our brothers and sisters. Amen.
— Amy Welborn (author of St. Nicholas of Myra: A Saint for Advent and Christmas)
In truth, you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;
your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Nicholas,
entreat Christ our God
that our soul may be saved.
— Troparion (Tone 4)
By Phil Herman
Phil writes about religion, history, and holidays.
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