Many European countries celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 5 or 6. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of Russia and Greece, of a number of cities, and of sailors and children, among many other groups, and was noted for his generosity. Due to this generosity and his numerous good deeds, St. Nicholas was part of the inspiration of the modern-day Santa Claus and Father Christmas.
In Italy, this day was celebrated with feasts, gift-giving, and festivals. In other European countries like Germany and the Netherlands, children would leave their shoes or special St. Nicholas boot in front of the fireplace or front door at night and find presents in them in the morning. The history of St. Nicholas and his good deeds was part of the inspiration of the modern-day Santa Claus and Father Christmas, which is why there are some current traditions of leaving gifts in people’s boots or shoes (or stockings). (From National Today.)
To read more about St. Nicholas and the best ways to celebrate the holiday, visit the following sites: