On December 6th, we celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas lived a long, long time ago. His parents wanted a baby, so they prayed to God. When God answered their prayers and gave them a son, they called him Nicholas (which means "hero of the people" in Greek).
As Nicholas grew in size, he also grew in goodness. His mother and father died when he was young. They left him a lot of money. Nicholas wanted to use the money to help the poor.
When Nicholas grew up, he became a priest and then a bishop. A bishop helps God’s people know and love God in many ways. As a bishop, Nicholas was able to help even more people.
The most famous story about St. Nicholas tells how the custom of hanging up stockings to put presents in first started! It goes like this:
There was a poor man who had three daughters. The man was so poor that he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn't get married. (A dowry is a sum of money paid to the groom by the bride's parents on the wedding day. This still happens in some countries, even today.) One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (this meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man not to tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.
Everyone loved Nicholas. After he died, they told stories of the good and kind things Nicholas had done. Some of the stories were about his special care for children—helping and protecting them when danger threatened. To this day people say that St. Nicholas, or Santa, is the special friend of children. After he died and became a saint with God in heaven, he was named the patron saint of children.
People all over the world celebrate St. Nicholas day on December 6th. You'll find lots of ideas below on how to celebrate St. Nicholas day at home. Also be sure to visit: https://www.stnicholascenter.org/ for many more printable activities, stories about St. Nicholas, online activities and even ideas on how to celebrate St. Nicholas Day at home.
You can learn more about his story in this video:
St. Nicholas - The Boy Who Became Santa (26:46 min.)