Most holidays we celebrate are rooted in deep history, usually one that has grown and evolved over the years. Christmas time and winter traditions we hold dear are no exception.
This year, my oldest is three years old and her excitement for Christmas is making our year extra magical. We’re starting traditions, reliving childhood favorites and talking with her about the meaning behind many things we do. One such tradition that we’re celebrating and explaining is St. Nicholas Day which falls on December 6th. We aren’t Catholic, but I did grow up with a strong German influence which is why I have memories of St. Nick’s Day. It’s mostly a European tradition, but definitely has a fun element that all families can participate in if they wish.
December 6th marks the special day of St. Nicholas – he was the gift giver of old that grew into our modern day version of Santa. The 6th marks his passing back in 343. In the US, St. Nick traditions are much like Christmas Eve, but on a smaller scale, almost like a precursor of what is to come on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Here’s how St. Nicholas Day works … on the eve of December 5th, children set out their shoes – near their bedroom door or the chimney – in hopes of receiving a small gift or treat. If they’ve been good they will receive a little surprise on the morning of December 6th. If they’ve been naughty all they’ll find is a lump or two of coal.
Our family will be putting a little spin on the normal shoe surprise and our kiddos will wake up to Christmas pajamas tucked into their shoes on December 6th. I figure, one, they don’t need any more sweets (I feel like our house is brimming with sugar during the holidays!) and two, it only makes sense to gift Christmas pajamas early in the season so we can get many nights of wear out of our cozy jammies!
Does your family celebrate St. Nicholas Day? Do you think you’ll give it a try this year?
Read more on the history of St. Nicholas, it may be of interest to you and perhaps your older children! And here’s another peek at December 6th traditions in various countries.