By Rebecca Mansell
Consider stuffed cabbage, herring fish and cod fish and Christmas doesn’t exactly spring to mind, does it? How about leaving polished boots on the windowsill or competing to display the best fireworks or going to your friends for a barbeque? Still doesn’t seem very festive does it? Yet all over the world people have different ways of celebrating Christmas.
In many places St. Nicholas is the main gift giver. His feast day, which is his earthly death date, actually falls on 6th December.
Where St. Nicholas is prominent, his day, not Christmas, is the primary gift giving day. Parties may be held on the eve; 5th December, and stockings left for St. Nicholas to fill during the night.
However St. Nicholas gifts are meant to be shared, emphasising the benevolent time of year. Yet very little is actually known about St. Nicholas. He may be considered as the original “Santa Claus” but there are a lack of secure references about him.
One of the earliest legends that is attached to his name tells how St. Nicholas heard of a man who could not afford the dowries for his three daughters, with the result that he intended – regretfully – to send them to a house of ill repute to work.
St. Nicholas saves them from this fate by throwing three bags of gold through their window at night.
Therefore it is this tale which is often identified as the root of St. Nicholas’s reputation as a gift-giver. Many countries incorporate St. Nicholas in their celebrations…so let’s gather the reindeers, leap into the sleigh and fly through the starry night to visit these countries and experience their very own Christmas Day…