December 6 is St. Nicholas Day. In Europe children put a shoe beside the fireplace with a carrot treat for St. Nick’s horse. In the morning they hope to find a treat or some coins for themselves left behind.
Americans may wonder, “Is he the same as Santa Claus? Like, just the European name for Santa?” What is the difference between St. Nicholas and Santa? And why do our friends in Canada and Britain call him Father Christmas?
St. Nicholas was a real person who was born around 343 A.D. in the area that is now the country of Turkey. He was a believer in Jesus Christ and was reputed to have a tender and generous heart.
You can read about how he anonymously gave gifts to needy families in my book, Advent Devotions for Busy Families.
Whatever you call him, we do well to admire and imitate someone who likes to give gifts in secret!
In the Bible, Jesus says in the book of Matthew: “When you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6: 3-4).
This Christmas season, imitate St. Nicholas, Father Christmas or Santa Claus. Give gifts in secret, because Christ’s love abounds in you!