When you wake up on the morning of Dec. 6, will there be a bag full of candy and maybe even a present in it waiting for you? If you answered yes, you're one of the special ones who participate in a tradition known as St. Nick's Day.
St. Nick’s Day?
It’s not celebrated much in the U.S. – although there has been some awareness of the holiday in Wisconsin – but in Northern Europe St. Nicholas Day is a big thing. Traditional celebrations included gifts left in children’s shoes (from which American Christmas stockings developed).
Good children receive treats – candies, cookies, apples and nuts – while naughty children receive lumps of coal. In Germany, children still put a shoe outside their bedroom doors on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, and hope to find candy, coins and maybe a small gift in them on Dec. 6. In the Netherlands, children put their shoes in front of their chimneys in hopes of finding chocolate or a small toy in their shoe when they wake.
But in the U.S. … not so much. Patrick and Mindy Flynn of Caledonia are trying to change that. And they think they've improved on the idea of putting candy in kids’ smelly shoes by creating special embroidered shoe bags just for Saint Nicholas Day.
Patrick Flynn remembers his mother celebrating Saint Nicholas Day and asked her – she’s 80 now – how the tradition started in her family. She said, “Gosh, I can’t remember. It must have been after the ‘little kids’ started coming, because I didn’t know about it earlier on.” Flynn – the sixth of nine siblings – notes that his five older brothers and sisters are what his mother calls the “first generation;” the last four – he’s now 50 – are the “little kids.”
Nonetheless, his family isn’t the only one to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.
Mindy Flynn, a first-grade teacher at Fratt Elementary School, said, “I recall children in tears, after discovering many of their classmates had received a visit from St. Nick that morning, only to discover they had been left out. Some kids kept crying, ‘Mrs. Flynn, why didn't he stop at our house?’ ”
That led to their eureka moment back in December of 2007. “It was at that point my husband and I decided to create more awareness of the tradition by creating a shoe bag, embellished with an image of St. Nicholas and the date so parents would not forget.”
The shoe bags, which neatly hang on a doorknob or hook, are available for purchase at the couple's website. Order quickly and they'll arrive neatly embroidered with your child's name in time for this year's Saint Nicholas Day. To order, go to the website links above.