His generosity was legendary and gave rise to the modern Santa Claus
ST NICHOLAS Day is a time when many people give presents to their loved ones and share tales of how his generosity inspired Santa Claus.
As the day comes around again, here’s what you need to know about the saint and how he gave up his wealth to help the poor.
When is St Nicholas Day 2018?
The day is celebrated on December 6 which marks the death of Saint Nicholas.
In the Orthodox Church, the day is celebrated on December 19 instead.
Who was St Nicholas?
Saint Nicholas was a fourth century Greek bishop of Mira, which is now part of Turkey.
He was born to wealthy parents, but became an orphan at a young age when his parents died in an epidemic.
The devout Christian dedicated his life to helping the poor and needy, and even spent his inheritance on the cause.
Legend has it that kindly Nicholas came across a poor man who couldn’t afford a dowry for his daughters.
Without this payment to their would-be husbands, the daughters wouldn’t be able to get married – and would probably end up as prostitutes.
So humble Nicholas anonymously flung three sacks of money through the window into the family home overnight, saving the father the humiliation of asking for charity in public.
Because of the miracles attributed to him, he is sometimes known as Nicholas the Wonderworker.
He was particularly known for his secret gift giving and gained a reputation for leaving coins in people’s shoes.
However, early illustrations of St Nick depict him as a stern, commanding man holding a birch rod.
He passed away on December 6, 343AD, and was made a saint after his death as a result of his charitable actions.
Saint Nicholas’s kindness became the stuff of legend over the centuries and he was popularised as Father Christmas, who gives presents to children.
The Dutch took their version “Sinterklaas” when they settled in America, where he became the Santa Claus many know today.
How is Saint Nicholas Day celebrated?
The day is popular with many kids in parts of Europe, who receive presents on this day.
Some European cities host special parades or celebrations, in honour of the patron saint.
One of the traditions of the day is kids putting shoes or boots by their fireplace or front door in the days leading up to December 6.
They will then hope to wake to find them filled with small presents on the day.