Today is St. Nicholas’ Day. Many nations, including Hungarians, celebrate this day and the real Santa Claus by giving sweets to children and loved ones.
Another of the traditions of the day is children putting shoes or boots by their fireplace or front door in the days leading up to 6 December and leaving carrots for Saint Nicholas. In countries such as Holland, you will be able to find special St Nicholas Day boots to mark the occasion. They will then hope to wake to find them filled with small presents on the day.
Apples and coins are traditionally given to children on this day too and families will celebrate with a large meal on the day itself or on the eve. In some families, the father will dress up as Saint Nicholas on the eve before the special day.
In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas is known as Sinterklaas, and there are a series of yearly parades across major towns and cities. During these parades, someone dresses up as Sinterklaas on a horse, boat, carriage, or even helicopter. Sinterklaas travels to hospitals, schools, and from home to home, leaving small gifts for well-behaved children.
In Italy, unmarried women who have not found their perfect match also receive gifts. They will partake in a special mass called Rito delle nubili. This is a ritual where they turn a column seven times, which is said to bring them good luck in finding a spouse. This comes from the story where Saint Nicholas dropped a bag from the chimney into a stocking for a poor man who was unable to afford dowries for his three daughters. This ensured they could get married.