Tonight is the eve before St. Nick’s Day. If you don’t know what that is, you probably aren’t alone. Growing up, it was part of our lives, albeit a confusing part. St. Nick, which is an alias for Santa Claus, comes weeks before Christmas to fill stockings with candy, small toys and other goodies for children to find on the morning of December 6. It wasn’t until I had children and moved away that I realized not every household does this. It also got more confusing as my children grew up, celebrating this oddball holiday tradition in a place where it was not that common. Try explaining why St. Nick gave your kid candy and not his buddy Meghan.
There were some who did celebrate St. Nick’s Day, and the local Catholic church taught it, but it was an alternate version, where children put out their shoes to be filled with candy. Yuck! The
Nick I know does not want to put food in my children’s stinky shoes. Although
upon further research, I learned that putting out shoes has historical
significance with this tradition, just not in my tradition.
Like most old tales, there are several versions of the story of St. Nick. It has been retold in that weird claymation action in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” More recently, it was told by VeggieTales (and pretty well, actually). I prefer the version of the poor man with three daughters who cannot marry because he has no dowry to give prospective husbands. The girls hang their stockings by the fire to dry and wake to find them filled with gold. Notice they were stockings, not shoes.
Last summer, we moved back to our hometown. St. Nick is in full swing here, with advertisements posted on scrolling signs outside local retailers announcing that the jolly old elf comes tonight. My children will not face the confusion of getting some goods while their classmates don’t, and haven’t once asked to set out their shoes.