St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6 to commemorate the death anniversary of the reverent St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas — the 3rd-century bishop of Myra — is revered as the patron saint of children and the lover of the poor. Notable for his generosity and giving spirit, St. Nicholas Day was the first bishop to embrace customs that placed the birth of Jesus as the true center of Christmas. The main significance of the holiday is its celebration among children. On the divine day of December 6, we remember his contributions to the holy church and celebrate a selflessly lived life.
History of St Nicholas Day
Saint Nicholas was born in the third century in a small village of Patara in Asia Minor to wealthy and devoted Christian parents. Soon after their untimely demise during an epidemic, Nicholas gave away his entire inheritance to the sick and suffering people of his town. His selfless service to the people, generosity for the needy, and genuine concern about the ships and sailors made him one of the youngest Bishops of Myra. Years later, under the persecution of Roman Emperor Diocletian, Bishop Nicholas was imprisoned for his faith.
Soon after his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea and pledged his life to the service of the needy. St. Nicholas died on December 6, A.D. 343, and was buried in a cathedral. Legend says that ‘manna,’ a unique relic with healing powers was formed in his grave. Fostering care and service even after his death made him a devoted figure in the Christian folktales, and his death is celebrated as St. Nicholas Day.
St. Nicholas Day honors the memory of the holy saint of generosity and forgiveness. The image of St. Nicholas riding on a saddleback and offering gifts to kids was crystallized as Santa Claus in the 19th century. It is believed that St. Nicholas arrived on his horseback on the feast day, accompanied by Black Peter, and distributed sweets and presents to well-behaved children, whereas coal and potatoes to the bad ones. The tradition was soon followed in the Netherlands, where the Dutch transformed St. Nicholas into Sinterklass (Santa Claus) in the favor of the English-speaking majority.
St. Nicholas Day is one of the most celebrated Christian holidays in the world. There are many folktales attached to St. Nicholas, making him one of the most cherished saints of Christian history.
St Nicholas Day timeline
St. Nicholas is born to Christian parents in Asia Minor — presently, Turkey.
Nicholas becomes the Bishop of Myra and dedicates his life to justice and care for all.
St. Nicholas is buried in a cathedral and receives tributes for his good deeds.
St. Nicholas is posthumously titled ‘Wonderworker’ and many miracles are attributed to him.
French nuns begin marking the death anniversary of St. Nicholas as St. Nicholas Feast Day and distribute gifts and candies to needy children.
St Nicholas Day FAQs
Is there a difference between Christmas Day and St. Nicholas Day?
Over time, Christmas and St. Nicholas Day have indeed been clubbed together, but they are distinctive holidays.
Is St. Nicholas Day a German Holiday?
St. Nicholas Day is prevalent in Europe and has deep cultural importance for the German people.
Who is the real Santa?
The legend of Santa Claus is loosely based on 3rd century St. Nicholas, who is remembered for his kind and giving personality.
Was St. Nicholas a priest?
St. Nicholas can be considered a lay brother or a monk. Historians believe that St. Nicholas was one of the three people selected to serve as bishop without prior ordination.
How to Observe St Nicholas Day
Start your day with an hour in the church in the memory of St. Nicholas, the patron of devotion and generosity. Later on, distribute small treats to the needy and study the spiritual implications of gift-giving. Conclude the day by reading a chapter from the Bible and honoring the Christ Child, just as St. Nicholas honored him throughout his life.
The legend of St. Nicholas is all about giving gifts to the needy. On December 6, carry forward the tradition by distributing gifts to the underprivileged, or the people in your family. By giving back to society, people become mindful of its existing cracks and are reminded of their divine duty to be of service to their community.
Pass on the traditions
St. Nicholas is a reminder of God’s divine love and service to mankind. Just as St. Nicholas considered the birth of Jesus as the center of Christmas, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated by emulating the values of Jesus Christ as the prime teachings of our lives.
5 Incredible Facts About St. Nicholas
A young prodigy
St. Nicholas became a bishop at the young age of 30, and was nicknamed as ‘Boy Bishop’.
St. Nicholas’ parents inspired his charitable personality.
Tales & legends
There are many legends attached to St. Nicholas, including the ooze of ‘manna’ from his grave.
The three lives
St. Nicholas saved three wrongly-accused people from execution by speaking up for them and inspired confessions from the guilty.
The Dutch word
The Dutch lovingly referred to St. Nicholas as ‘Sinterklass’ and introduced the holiday to North Americans in 1821.
Why St Nicholas Day is Important
It’s a day of giving
St. Nicholas Day is the true holiday of the gift-giver. The annual observation allows us to shift our focus to giving rather than getting. By placing compassion over consumption and ditching greed to the curb, we progress as human beings and register ourselves as a part of the community. St. Nicholas Day restores the balance of the Christmas season by giving us a chance to think about others.
It’s the celebration of his legacy
St. Nicholas is one of the most notable saints of all times and is still revered in the Christian tradition. His legacy is a testament to the work he did as the patron saint and protector of the children and the needy. St. Nicholas Day brings the disciples of Orthodox, Catholic, Episcopal, Roman, and Protestant Christians together to celebrate and appreciate the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas.
It educates us
St. Nicholas Day educates the people of all faiths and the general public about the true saint of the service and the importance of his principles in today’s world. As we dwindle into an increasingly materialistic and opportunistic world, the celebration of this holiday becomes all the more important.
St Nicholas Day dates