While living in Germany we celebrated St Nicholas Day and have continued this tradition here in the states. On the night  before December 6th our family sets our shoes by the front door. St Nicholas comes and when we awake in the morning our shoes are filled with candy, fruit and sometimes a small trinket.

So our shoes are ready to go!


St Nicholas was a kind and generous Saint. Celebrating him gives us a wonderful opportunity to talk about ways we can help others. You can learn more about St. Nicholas here.

What special traditions does your family have?

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  1. I live in the greater Cincinnati, OH area which had a lot of German immigrants. We celebrated St. Nicholas growing up and I do with my kids as well. We used to get an orange, chocolate gold coins, and some trinkets in our stockings. We also used to put our Santa list in the stocking for St. Nicholas to take to Santa. We also put out a carrot for his horse. I think I enjoy St. Nicholas Day more than Christmas Day.

  2. My mother in law is German, and so my husband grew up with this tradition. Our oldest is two and a half, and so this year we are starting tradtions. This was the first we did. We’re still waiting for him to find the German pickle hiding in our tree!!! I can’t wait. I love traditions!

  3. Over here in the Netherlands, this tradition is called Sinterklaas or Sint Nicolaas. Childeren set their shoes near the chimney/window/door and Sint comes and puts pressents in them. On the 11th of november, we celebrate the saint Maarten. We walk with lanterns and sing songs to comemmorate the saint who gave his warm clothing to a poor man. On the 25th & 26th od December we have Christmas, the tree is raised the 1st sunday after Sinterklaas and will stand till the 6th of January ( 3 kings-day) Now… last year I got a wonderfull but unexpected gift from Sinterklaas… 2 days before I was admitted in hospital with high blood pressure during pregnancy… on the morning of the 5th of december… Sinterklaas-day… at 4.15 hours my beautifull son was born; just over 2 months to soon…. his names? Lars – Wilhelmus- Bernardus – NIKOLAAS…. lol… we will never forget Sinterklaas 2008…. keep this tradition high, it is your link to your ancestors! hugs and have a great December month!

    hugs from the Netherlands
    Winda aka DutchQ

  4. Our German tradition has St.Nicholas coming too. He always comes and knocks on the windows and rings the doorbell. There is always a huge bag of treats left by him on the front step. My sister always helped with it when my kids were little. Now that I have grandchildren my husband and I get to be the jolly saint!

  5. we celebrate st. nick (living in the netherlands it’s hard not too) but don’t do it lavishly like some families as we like to celebrate christmas too so we even it out for both. Hope your shoes were filled with goodies !

  6. here kids put their slippers on windowsil every evening in december. and they have advent calendars also. but it is not st nicholas but santa’s little elves who bring candy or smt sweet into it if kids have been nice.

  7. I lived in Germany when I was a kid and even though my parents and I never celebrated St. Nicholas Day I started the tradition with my own children. St. Nicholas usually brings the kiddos in our house something small to help them get in the spirit of Christmas. Some years it is a gingerbread house to make, sometimes kits to make ornaments, sometimes a book about Christmas.

  8. I’m German and live in Germany, so Adventskalender and Nikolausstiefel belong to our Christmas tradition as well as a Christmas tree and stars all over the house as decoration.

    And: We celebrate Christmas with all the presents on December 24th! That’s the main difference I think.

    Around Düsseldorf, where I live, we celebrate St. Martin’s Day on November 11th. That’s when children walk through the streets with lanterns, singing songs and everyone knows, winter is coming and it’s time to decorate the house and make it cozy inside.

  9. When the kids were younger on Saint Nicholas Day they found a little surprise (chocolates, a small toy) beside their bed when they awoke in the morning. Today we do no longer celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.

    Annegret (from Good Old Germany)

  10. We do this too. Don’t forget to sprinkle Magic Dust on your front step so he knows where to come, and leave a carrot for his horse! Enjoy.

  11. I lived in Germany for many years and sooooooo miss this time of year, starting with Advent and Nikolaustag! Simply magical.
    Hmm… you’ve got me thinking… maybe we’ll begin this tradition with our 5 year old! Thanks!

    Frohe Weihnachten!

  12. We celebrate Saint Nicholas day too. Have since I was a kid. I think we’re the only family I know who celebrate it. Weird.

  13. We have a Bethlehem dinner on the floor on Christmas Eve before reading the Christmas story. We eat food they may have eaten then, etc. It really gives us space and time to focus on the real meaning of Christmas! Cute idea with St. Nicholas. We’re still recovering from candy from Halloween, though:)

  14. My “family of origin” and I lived in Germany for a while, too. We enjoy “celebrating” St. Nicholas Tag, too. 🙂

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