Saint Nicholas' Day is celebrated on the 6th of December every year. For most children in Britain, this means nothing more than eating another chocolate from their advent calendar.
However, if you head across the English Channel to continental Europe you will notice a huge difference. In eastern France, where I am currently living, there are many traditions and festivities to mark this special date. In France, legend has it that three young children got lost. They became cold and hungry and were found by an evil butcher. The butcher then killed the children and preserved them in salt. Saint Nicholas is said to have found the children and brought them back to life. He then returned them to their families and is now known as the patron saint of children. Nowadays, children will learn about the story of Saint Nicholas in school and may learn songs or poems. Children will usually receive chocolate or sweets and sometimes small presents. In other countries, there are different traditions. For example, in Holland children leave clogs and shoes out on the 5th December, in the hope they will be filled overnight with chocolates from Saint Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas is also known as Father Christmas, or Santa Claus. Many British people are familiar with the poem by Clement Moore entitled "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" - now more widely known as "The Night Before Christmas". This poem, together with the Coca Cola adverts, has been credited with bringing a centuries-old tradition into today's society. Although Christmas Day itself is a fantastic celebration, St Nicholas' Day should definitely become a bigger event in the UK!
Is Saint Nicholas' Day celebrated in your country?