Because I have a book review to do for Monday, Dec. 6th, but still wanted to mention this particular day (since it has special meaning for me) I thought I'd double-post. This post will cover St. Nicholas and then I can put up the book review.
St. Nicholas has all kinds of legends connected to him. However, there are a couple of things I know:
1. He was a Catholic Bishop
2. He helped people
The other thing is, it seems (based on what I see and hear) that the legends of Santa Claus sprung in part from legends surrounding St. Nicholas.
Growing up I've met a few people who celebrate this day. One lady I know said, when I mentioned St. Nicholas Day, "Oh yes, Little Christmas." I don't remember if I ever heard it referred to as "Little Christmas" but it fits.
Here's how it works. The night before Dec. 6th children put out one of their shoes. The next day (Dec. 6th) there's candy and small gifts in (and sometimes gifts under) the shoes.
I've also heard that Dutch put out wooden shoes. And I also heard of kids putting hay in their shoes for St. Nicholas's horse.
On my father's side we're part Flemish--which is lowland Dutch (Beligum) and we grew up celebrating St. Nicholas Day. I'm also part German on my mother's side, and they also celebrate the day. We'd put out our shoes and the next morning find candy and gifts. One year I even got a St. Nicholas pin that I still have (and proudly wore to the NWHRWA Christmas Party on Saturday).
I still celebrate St. Nicholas Day, even as an adult--but a little differently. Instead of putting out my shoe, I give a gift to my offspring.
Here's some more about St. Nicholas:
St. Nicholas Center
This one has some interesting things about St. Nicholas in the German culture:
A St. Nicholas Day In Germany
Oh and be sure to check out Anna Kathryn Lanier's blog post, Holday Cheer - Little Christmas & Speculaas to see what she says about St. Nicholas--you might even win a prize (check her post for details).
Anyway, hope you enjoy your Dec. 6th whether it's St. Nicholas Day, plain old Monday or Little Christmas for you.