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Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Today, December 6, is one of my favorite holidays. It might even be a day that I have fonder memories of than Christmas, yet it is a holiday that not everyone knows about. Today is St. Nick’s Day.

When we were kids, on St. Nick’s Eve, we put out a pair of shoes outside the front door. When we woke the next morning, on St. Nick’s Day, the shoes were filled with chocolates, oranges and other small gifts. It was so simple, but so wonderful and magical. I loved it even more than opening presents Christmas morning.

The tradition stems from our Italian roots and a couple of other European cultural traditions. In Italy, and in many other European countries, St. Nick was just a regular old man who visited the less fortunate and gave them gifts during this season. The traditions vary depending on your European region, but in Italy, St. Nick specifically visited children on December 6. He brought them small treats such as chocolates and fruits. Our family, which is also German, blended the Italian portions of the holiday with the German traditions. In Germany, families put out shoes, often filled with hay or carrots for St. Nick’s steed, and he replaced with presents. The Western tradition of Santa Claus grew from the tales of St. Nick.

Now that I’m older and living away from my parents, I don’t have anyone to fill my shoes with goodies, but I still look fondly back on the memories of this event. My brother is carrying on the tradition with my niece and someday, if I ever have children, I will celebrate this holiday with them as well.

I love traditions and this is the best time of the year to embrace them. My family is mostly Italian, so I’ll end this blog post on one more Italian tradition. Dominic: The Italian Christmas Donkey. The reindeer can’t climb the hills of Italy, so St. Nick had Dominic: The Italian Christmas Donkey. Enjoy this fun tune that also celebrates jolly old St. Nick and several Italian traditions:

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