Some of you whose families are European may have grown up celebrating St. Nicholas Day. St. Nicholas was in fact a real person, born in 280 A.D. in Asia Minor. His early life wasn’t nearly as jolly as current day celebrations would have us believe. While St. Nicholas was born into a wealthy family, he lost his parents very early in life and became known for anonymously giving gifts to those in need.  He died on December 6th, hence the celebration of St. Nicholas Day!

The act of gift giving is believed to have come about when St. Nicholas learned of a poor man with three daughters. In his day, women were required to provide a dowry to find a good husband. A dowry is the money or goods that the bride’s family gives to her new husband and/or his family when they are married. According to legend, St. Nicholas threw three bags of gold through their window at night, saving the daughters from a life of prostitution

Today, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated around the world under many cultural variations. Some families celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas on December 5th, the eve of his day. In other countries, children leave their boots in front of the fireplace, often with a treat for his horses.  In many places St. Nicholas leaves small gifts and candies for children.

There’s certainly lots more to the legend of St. Nicholas, but suffice it to say, he was a good bishop known for helping others. Many families who celebrate St. Nicholas Day leave shoes or boots out on December 5th in anticipation of St. Nicholas arrival. In the boots kids often find.

Coins to signify the monies St. Nicholas gave to those in need and/or treats (preferably healthy treats like fruits or good quality chocolate).

Perhaps the most important reason to consider celebrating St. Nicholas Day is his random acts of kindness and generosity.  What an awesome opportunity to brainstorm ideas with your children about ways they can demonstrate their own Random Acts of Kindness.

Please share your family traditions and celebrations of St. Nicholas Day!