Have you ever celebrated Saint Nikolas Day on December 6th?
Growing up in Southeastern Wisconsin in a German family it was celebrated every year. I’d go to school on the 6th and everyone would discuss what Saint Nick had brought them. It was a very big deal. However, when I moved to another Upper Midwest state no one had ever heard of it. Here is briefly the story of Saint Nikolas of Myra or jolly old Saint Nick.
The story of Saint Nikolas starts with a real person Saint Nikolas of Myra (270-346 AD) in modern day Turkey. Nikolas was known for many good works, among which was giving gold to families in their stockings or shoes put by the fireplace or front door.
To commemorate Saint Nick’s generous nature, every year, on December 5th (evening) children put their stockings out for a visit from a more jovial form of the Saint.
In addition to cities with a strong German influence like Milwaukee, the holiday is celebrated by the Catholic and Episcopalian religions, and descendants with Polish, German, Dutch, and Ukrainian heritage.
Typical things left in the stockings include fruit, chocolate coins, and a small gift. For my stockings, I would put my list for Santa inside the night before and Saint Nick would take it to Santa and leave a few presents to tide me over till the holiday. The good children receive treats and the bad get nothing or coal.
For my own son I have also kept the tradition of St. Nick. It’s a fun, magical time for little ones. While you can have the day be a more religious one, a secular one is also acceptable. I try to incorporate my German heritage into the holiday season when I can.
My husband once accused me of making up the holiday so I could buy my son more presents! Nope. It’s real. I had to print out articles from the internet to prove it. Even some of my Catholic friends said it wasn’t a real holiday – until their priest presented it! I remember giving them a hard time that they are now celebrating a “consumer” holiday. Of course now they just argue that it is religious one. Do you celebrate Saint Nicks or do you keep your stockings for Santa on Christmas?