The Legend of St Nicholas Day – Start a Fun Family Tradition

Start a fun Christmas tradition with your on St Nicholas Day! Learn about the legend of St Nicholas and what you can do to surprise your kids.

The Legend of St Nicholas Day - what a fun tradition to do with your kids!

Greed is good.

At least when it comes to candy.

So when my mom told me about St. Nicholas Day when I was a kid, my greed was in high gear.

On the night of December 5, St Nicholas Day (Nikolaustag in German), is celebrated by having kids put their shoes outside the door.
Legend has it that the spirit of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, will go from house to house carrying a book of sins in which all the actions of all kids are written.
Learn the legend of St Nicholas Day - start a fun tradition with your kids

Good little boys and girls will have their shoes filled with tasty treats while naughty kids will have twigs in their shoes.

Being the candy loving kid that I was (and still am!), I naturally rooted in my closet for my tallest pair of boots expecting them to be overflowing with candy.

My sister and I put our boots outside our bedroom doors (wouldn’t want any racoons absconding with even one bite of our treats!) and fell asleep dreaming of sugar plums (and Skittles, Snickers and Starburst).

Lo and behold, St. Nicholas obviously confused us with two other little girls because we found lots of yummy surprises the next morning!

This is a such a fun tradition and a great way to kick start the holiday season!

So don’t forget to have your kids leave out their shoes before they fall asleep on December 5.

Will they choose sneakers or their tallest pair of boots?

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  1. Me being from Germany, this is how I grew up. But for us and all our friends he came to our house with his assistant Knecht Ruprecht who had a wooden rod that (in old days) he would hit the kids on their bottoms if they were bad. Now he only pretends to hit you. Of course we were scared to death of him LOL. It’s quite fun thinking back now and I wish I’d have this scary guy come to my house and scare my kids πŸ˜‰
    We always got nuts, chocolate and oranges too. So in Germany there is no Santa. They only celebrate Jesus’ birthday because St. Nicholas comes earlier in the month. I kind of really miss this, because it’s an old tradition from a long long time ago.

  2. I grew up in Germany so I am very familiar with Nikolaus Tag. Also Knecht Ruprecht! I carry on the shoes tradition with my kids except we put out the stockings. I so miss all the festivity that goes along with that day in Germany.

  3. This is fun… We have a fun tradition in our house Boudreaux Clause (Santa’s cajun cousin) comes and fills the stockings on New Year’s Eve… We especially like it because it gives the kids something to look forward to after the big day… (and I can catch some sales. :o) )

  4. My kids are products of Catholic school so the shoes always went out, but they were lucky if St. Nick remembered to have enough to even fill a few shoes. I’m telling them to leave their shoes at your house now, I mean their boots!

  5. My family has always done this (but we would use our stockings, not shoes.) We come from a part of Ohio that was settled by German Catholic immigrants so it’s definitely a hold over from the old-world traditions. My husband and I have started this with our daughter as well. She always gets a treat and a new pair of pajamas to wear for Christmas.

  6. Love it! I am trying to incorporate my husband’s Scandinavian traditions around the holidays. My mom’s family was German so this will be nice to do, too! Thanks for sharing!

  7. This year our grandson is about 20 months old at Christmas and so we were trying to think of a nice tradition that we could have with him……….and this one sounds lovely and not too labor intensive….I’ll mention it to my husband tonight! Thanks for the idea!

  8. Hahaha! I did this once and put coal in my son’s shoes and he didn’t realized it and got a little hurt in the process! LOL! Now I only try to put soft stuff in them when I can!

  9. In Holland (The Netherlands) we also celebrate Sinterklaas and his knecht ‘Zwarte Piet’ (black pete). Story is that Zwarte Piet climes down the chimney to leave presents for the kids (does that sound familliar?). Kids put up their shoes by the chimney and sing songs for Sinterklaas in order to remember him to not pass by their house without leaving presents. The Santa Claus tradition in the Anglo Saxon countries originates from Sinterklaas.

  10. My mother and father were stationed in germany when my okdest brother was born. We had this tradition as a result. I loved it and i was just explaining it to my wife for our kids to enjoy. We tried the boots. Somehow St. Nikolaus, which is how we pronounced it, always found and replaced it with a sneaker. We were also called dummkopfs on a regular basis. Odd for an irish catholic family?

  11. WOW did this bring back some memories! My parents used to do this! I missed it this year, well, not really I have about 2 more hours to pull this one off but I’ll keep it for next year!

  12. Dec. 5th is my son’s birthday so it was always a special day… if he had known about this beautiful tradition… he would have really milked it! πŸ˜‰
    I love the idea… perhaps I will start it for the next generation of little ones in our family one day!

  13. I live in the Netherlands and he is called Sinterklauss here. His helpers are called Zwerite Piets (which if you look back into the history of it are slaves). My kids are use to Santa but since we are stationed here we do both, even though there is no Santa here.

  14. Well, at my house it used to be the 6th of December. Once I was a child, I went and checked my boots and there was nothing there. When I went to bed, I found a new pair of boots filled with candy underneath my blanket. I was so happy that St. Nicolaus did not forget about me and not to bad to get a visit from Knecht Ruprecht.

  15. I am so happy that i found this post. My grandmother immigrated from Germany at 30 and started this tradition with us, except we always called it Kris Kringle. My grandmother had a friend come dressed in the tradition Kris Kringle garb–he would read a book to us that had our picture and a list of good and bad things we had done that year. We would decorate gingerbread houses, eat a big dinner with the whole family, place our shoes on the porch, and we would wake up to a bag of gifts placed next to our shoes. So many wonderful memories. I will be starting this traditions with my 4 year old niece this year.

    1. ciao, I’m italian and I live in Trieste. Here too there is an old tradition with S.NicolΓ² that on 5th of December brings candies to good children and cork to bad ones…:) in this region we are the only to celebrate this saint, people near us celebrates S.Lucia (13 December) or the common Santa Klaus. I’m happy to hear that there are other countries with same uses of mine:) thanks , and hugs:):)

  16. I come from a large family that is quite spread out and I regret that my son, an only child, doesn’t get that big family excitement that I got growing up with five siblings, so I always looking for things to do and traditions to start to make thing more exciting. As my mother-in-law is German and our Christmas decor is sprinkled with German decor. I adore this tradition and can’t wait to start it this holiday season!

  17. How fun! Since I have a son named Nicholas, we have become more interested in learning about St. Nicholas in our house. So, as part of our Christmas countdown calendar, I’m going to add this to December!

  18. We had a similar tradition in our house. Father New Year who comes New Year’s Eve and leaves little gifts in your boots.

  19. St. Nicholas leaves an orange, a candy cane, chocolate coins and a sack full of real money – the real money for us to spend on or give to others during this season – at our house! Kelly

  20. My Dad is German so I’ve grown up with this tradition for year’s. I’ve kept it going with my kid’s. They have little Red Santa Boot’s which are cute, but sometimes I get the date mixed up. My 3 kid’s are 22, 21 and 19 and I still do it for them. What child doesn’t like getting chocolate and sweets. We are all kids at heart’s…. I hope they continue the tradition once they have a family……

  21. Sadly, with the death of my On a st Nicolas night and morning, any true i knew has all been extinguished.
    It is a fact. Hold the tradition and love your children constantly.

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