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Do you have any St. Nicholas Day traditions you share with your family? Learn why we celebrate, and grab a printable pack you can use to teach your kids the meaning behind this holiday.
My husband and I had a big “stocking debate” in the early years of our marriage.
Growing up, his family hung stockings by the fireplace, but filled them with treats for the kids to find on Christmas morning.
In our home growing up, we would hang our stockings up and anticipate December 6th, St. Nick’s Day, when we would wake up to find the stockings “mysteriously” filled with candies, small gifts, and other small treats.
I couldn’t believe that my husband didn’t know of this tradition – it was such a fun memory I had growing up, and definitely one of the St. Nicholas Day traditions I wanted to share with my family.
And while we do enjoy some fun on the holiday, I also don’t want to miss the opportunity to teach my kids who St. Nicholas was and why we celebrate.
Traditions help us make memories as a family, and help bring meaning to the season. I know I look forward to our special St. Nicholas Day traditions each year, and your family can too.
Quick Facts About St. Nicholas
The man who inspired who we know and love as Santa Claus was a real bishop who was born in the 3rd century.
St. Nicholas was left a fortune from his parents, which he used generously to help others.
There are many stories that have circulated over the years about St. Nicholas. One of the most famous ones tells of a time he threw bags of gold coins into the window of three sisters, because their father couldn’t pay for their marriages.
There are many other legends and stories that have been passed down through the years about St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas died on December 6th, which is the day we celebrate St. Nick’s Day.
We celebrate St. Nick’s day on the anniversary of his death, which is believed to be December 6th, 343 A.D.
A Fun New Tradition
Saint Nicholas’ generosity and love for the Lord has been an inspiration to others. Many St. Nicholas Day traditions focus on the joy of giving to others. And he loved children, so it’s only fitting that we bless our kids and make some special memories for them on this day!
In Europe, children began to leave their shoes out on the Eve of St. Nick’s Day, in hopes that he would fill the shoes with small treats and gifts. Apparently, as St. Nick threw bags of coins into windows, they sometimes landed in empty shoes…which is how this tradition began!
Some families keep this tradition alive by setting shoes out by the fireplace, while other families substitute the shoes for stockings.
Our family hangs stockings each year, and I absolutely love filling them the night of December 5th, and seeing the joy on my kids’ faces when they come down in the morning!
Traditional gifts for stockings are chocolate coins, candy canes, and oranges.
You can also leave other candies and small toys in the stockings. Each year, I also love to leave a new Christmas ornament and PJs for my kids, as that’s become part of the tradition for us.
Other St. Nicholas Day Traditions
St. Nicholas Day traditions are celebrated all over the world.
In Germany, families take care to thoroughly clean their homes and shoes, in preparation for “St. Nick’s arrival” the next morning.
In Spain, there is a special long walk (or Caminata) that people make in devotion to St. Nick.
Some cultures celebrate St. Nicholas Day a lot like Halloween, dressing up as St. Nick and going door to door seeking treats.
Here are a few more St. Nicholas Day traditions you can begin this year:
Read a Book About St. Nick
There are many books about St. Nicholas, but we have really enjoyed The Story of St. Nicholas – More Than Reindeer and a Red Suit that I purchased a few years ago. We read through it each year in the days leading up to St. Nicholas Day.
This book was published by Voice of the Martyrs, and it tells more of St. Nick’s story that we don’t often hear.
Many people have heard the legends I shared above, but fewer may know about his devotion to Christ and how he endured persecution. Although he was tortured and sent to prison, he refused to deny Jesus.
This story of the boldness with which St. Nick lived out his faith is worth sharing with your kids this season.
Bless Others in the Spirit of St. Nick
Another way you can celebrate St. Nick’s Day is by spreading generosity, just like he did.
That’s truly the heart of the season, right? Teaching our kids to focus not just on receiving, but giving to others.
If you need some ideas, I wrote a series with some great ideas for serving others with your family.
What can you do this season to help others in need and demonstrate the love of Christ, just like St. Nicholas?
Baking a Feast
St. Nicholas Day is also called the Feast of St. Nicholas, and you can get into the spirit by baking! Spending time in the kitchen with your kids will make a great time to talk about St. Nick.
The St. Nicholas Center has a great page with recipes you can make to celebrate. You’ll find ideas for everything from drinks to desserts!
Learn More About St. Nick
Learning about St. Nicholas would make a great mini-unit study for your homeschool.
I’ve created a printable pack that would be a great addition to any St. Nicholas unit!
St. Nicholas Printable Pack
Help your kids discover St. Nick’s story with this printable workbook.
- All About Saint Nicholas fact recording sheet
- Saint Nicholas KWL chart
- Create an acrostic poem page
- Compare and contrast Venn diagram
- Describing Saint Nicholas page
- Time with Saint Nicholas creative writing activity
- Saint Nicholas Day word search
- Saint Nicholas reading comprehension page
I hope you have fun making some sweet St. Nicholas Day family traditions.
And drop me a comment below: how do you celebrate St. Nick’s Day?
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