The Tradition of St. Nicholas

Posted on December 05, 2021 by Andrea Forsberg

The Tradition of St. Nicholas

The winter holidays are a special and magical time of year. Whether you enjoy cozying up by the fire, heading to the slopes, or singing carols, you and your family probably have some steadfast and beloved traditions that you look forward to every year.


For some families, the tradition of St. Nicholas is part of the winter fun. Though many people have heard of St. Nicholas, few understand the history and tradition behind the celebration. Here at Flower Works, we are all about honoring and understanding traditional methods while bringing our own unique perspectives to your floral decor. This year, we thought we’d do the same with some St. Nicholas holiday traditions so that you can put your own family spin on the December 6th holiday.


Treats in Your Shoe


Perhaps the most common St. Nicholas tradition is leaving one’s shoes by the fire so that St. Nicholas can put treats and small presents inside. Oranges are commonly expected, as well as other small treats and notes. Usually, the gifts are not extravagant, but rather sweet little pleasures for children to enjoy before Christmas.


If a child misbehaves, they might receive salt, a stick, or coal in their shoe on St. Nicholas’ day. However, modern interpretations are much more lenient on child behavior and focus more on the consistency of tradition.


Feast for the Feast


December 6th is technically the feast day of St. Nicholas, which is a term that the Catholic faith uses to describe a day devoted to a particular saint. However, many people take the term “feast day” very seriously and invite friends and family over for a large, decadent meal. This usually happens the night before December 6th, and the cuisine varies from family to family and country to country. These traditions are especially revered in Europe, with unique meals served in the Netherlands, France, and Germany.


Single but not Sufficient


Italian families not only shower children with treats on the feast day of St. Nicholas, but they also make sure that unmarried women get something too. Italian churches often offer a special Mass for unmarried women on St. Nicholas’ day as a ritual to help them find a spouse.


This likely comes from traditional Catholic symbolism. For example, St. Nicholas is said to be the patron saint of children and protector of virgins. Though this once translated to unmarried women, modern single ladies benefit from antiquated gender assumptions through treats on St. Nick’s Day.




If you’ve watched the American version of The Office, you’ve likely seen the episode where Dwight dressed up as Krampus for Christmas. As it turns out, his depiction of the St. Nicholas day tradition wasn’t too far off. In Germany and other parts of eastern Europe, Krampus visits misbehaving children around St. Nicholas’ day.


This frightening creature accompanies St. Nicholas on his travels and leaves the coal and sticks that naughty children get. In some extreme cases, Krampus may kidnap the children in his sack. Needless to say, this character has been a reasonably effective “scared straight” program for many generations of children.


Visit Flower Works


Here at Flower Works, we are thrilled to be a part of so many families’ holiday traditions. So, whether you need a wreath for your front door or a breathtaking bouquet to bring to a holiday gathering, we can help design something worthy of your traditions. Every year, we have the pleasure of helping hundreds of UP families adorn their homes for the winter holidays, and it is by far one of the most rewarding parts of our business.


If you would like to place an order for the upcoming holiday season, please fill out our online form. Krampuses and naughty children need not apply.

Posted in Nicholaus, Saint Nikolaus, St, Traditions