Saint Nicholas Day
The old Saint Nicholas arrives in Romania on
the 6th of December, every year. His coming announces the beginning of the winter
holidays, the Christmas and the New Year.
Saint Nicholas is generous not only with the children, but the adults, too.
On the evening of the 5th of December, the boots are being happily polished in every home. People usually put the boots near the entrance door, waiting for the presents.
Saint Nicholas takes care of each member of the family. He puts a little present into every one's boots.
But who is Saint Nicholas? The parents, of course.
And who is the one who puts presents in the parents' boots? The rest of family.
This custom is very old in Romania, and Saint Nicholas Day is one of the most important festivals of the year, especially for the children.
All that is known of Nicholas is that he was Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor during the 4th century. Legend tells how a noble but poor man was thinking of prostituting his three daughters because he was unable to provide them with a dowry. Nicholas threw three golden balls or bags of gold through the window of their house and withdrew unseen, thereby saving them from their fate.
Once, seamen threatened by a violent storm invoked
Nicholas, and he appeared, and assisted them with the rigging until the storm died down.
When famine spread through his bishopric, Nicholas learned that several ships were anchored in the harbour laden with grain. The saint promised the fearful sailors that if they gave the grain to his starving people, the customs men would not find their cargo short. Nicholas was also said to have saved three soldiers from decapitation; had an innocent prince released from prison; and brought to life three children hidden in a brine
tub who had been murdered by their innkeeper father to feed to his guest during a plague.
He is patron saint of sailors and of children, and also the origin of Father Christmas- Santa Claus being a derivative of St Nicholas- an identification probably derived from his patronage of children and his charitable acts of presenting gifts by night.
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