St. Nicholas Day Celebrated on December 6

St. Nicholas Day Celebrated on December 6

Painting by Josef Lada

Today, December 6 is St. Nicholas Day (Deň Svätého Mikuláša) in Slovakia where Charles spent his early childhood years before World War II. On the eve of St. Nicholas,  December 5, children polished their boots to leave on the windowsill or doorstep. In the morning they hoped to find a nice treat and not the dreaded coal for those who behaved badly. Traditional treats included apples, nuts, and pears. In some villages, St. Nicholas arrived in a horse-drawn coach, along with an angel (Andel) and the devil (Cert) who rattled a chain.

Children filled the streets with singing and dancing. St. Nicholas had a present for each child. In some villages he visited each home. On the evening of December 6 older boys dressed up as Mikuláša with the angel and devil. The trio visited families with young children, giving more fruit, nuts and candies. Charles mentioned Mikuláša was also a day on which witches came out to play. Men and boys would try to run the witches out-of-town by whistling, ringing bells or honking. Some people would hang an old broom over their door.

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. The story of the American Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was said to have been born during the third century in the village of Patara which was a part of Greece, now the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents raised him to be a devout Christian. They died in an epidemic while Nicholas was a boy. .

Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made the Bishop of Myra as a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. He gave his gifts late at night, so that his identity would remain a secret.

The anniversary of St. Nicholas’s death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th.

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