Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas Quick Facts - CA

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2023 DateDecember 6, 2023
2024 DateDecember 6, 2024

Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas Day in
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Saint Nicholas Day is an annual Christian observance that honours the memory of St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, known for his kindhearted actions and miracles. St. Nicholas is considered the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, and travellers, among others, and is associated with the tradition of gift-giving. While the customs and traditions of this observance may vary around the world, it typically involves various acts of charity, gift-giving, and celebrations to commemorate the life and good deeds of St. Nicholas.

The figure of St. Nicholas, who lived in the 4th century in the region that is now modern-day Turkey, has inspired gift-giving traditions around the world, including those of Santa Claus in Canada and North America. With a significant number of Canadians having European heritage, particularly from countries that celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, the event holds cultural importance to many families across Canada.

In Canada, Saint Nicholas Day is observed on December 6, with some communities and families engaging in various cultural activities to celebrate the event, such as parades, feasts, storytelling, and theatrical performances about the life of St. Nicholas. While this observance may not be as broadly recognized in Canada compared to other holiday customs, it provides an opportunity for Canadians of diverse backgrounds to appreciate the values of kindness, charity, and gift-giving, and connect with traditions deeply rooted in their family history and heritage.

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Saint Nicholas facts

  • Saint Nicholas was born 280 A.D in Patara Lycia, which is modern-day Turkey. He devoted himself to others, even using his inheritance to help the poor and sick.
  • The poem, An Account of a Visit From Saint Nicholas, written in 1820 by Clement Clarke Moore, describes Saint Nicholas as a jolly heavy set man who would come down chimneys and leave gifts for children. This would be the inspiration for Santa Claus.
  • A popular tradition adopted by Christmas is the act of leaving one’s shoes outside their door. Stockings hung on a fireplace mantel are also common. During the night, Saint Nicholas comes. In the morning, those shoes and stockings are found full of gifts and treats.
  • The traditions associated with Saint Nicholas in Canada are a combination of diverse European influences, including Dutch, Belgian, French, and British customs. These customs were brought to the country by waves of European settlers and immigrants.
  • Some French-Canadian families may set up a small crèche or nativity scene in their homes on Saint Nicholas Day, as the feast day serves as a reminder of Jesus's humble birth.

Top things to do in Canada for Saint Nicholas

  • Be kind and charitable. As a patron saint, Saint Nicholas was very generous and was well known for giving to others.
  • Continue the German tradition of baking Stutenkerl. Stutenkerl is a German pastry made from sweet, leavened dough. It is shaped in the form of a man, a reference to Saint Nicholas.
  • Speculaas cookies are traditional Dutch spiced cookies often associated with Saint Nicholas Day. You can bake these cookies at home and enjoy them with family and friends.
  • Take the opportunity to learn and teach children about the story of Saint Nicholas. Explore the historical and cultural significance of this holiday and how it is celebrated in different parts of the world.

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