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Barbara Rolek

Many Believe St. Nicholas Is the Inspiration for Santa Claus

By December 4, 2013

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St. Nicholas Cookies and Pierniczki
St. Nicholas Cookies and Pierniczki
Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Thousands of children across Europe and some parts of the United States wake up on Dec. 6 to find their shoe or stocking filled with oranges, tangerines, nuts in the shell and gingerbread, courtesy of St. Nicholas. But the saintly man believes in payback so naughty boys and girls may receive a lump of coal.

For Christians who follow the Gregorian calendar, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on Dec. 6, but for Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar, it's Dec. 19. Many believe St. Nicholas to be the real-life inspiration for Santa Claus.

St. Nicholas by Schumata
St. Nicholas on Parade
Flickr by Schumata
St. Nicholas Day is celebrated in many ways -- the saint may appear in red velvet robes, a bishop's mitre and crozier and lead a town parade on horseback or in a sleigh, and be the focus of a family party. But the real emphasis is placed on the saint's belief that doing for others is the faithful way to live.

Get in the spirit of things and celebrate on Dec. 6 or Dec. 19, or both days, and host your own St. Nicholas party:

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