In many countries around the world St Nicholas is the main gift giver. In some places he arrives in the middle of November and moves about the countryside, visiting schools and homes to find out if children have been good or bad. In others he comes in the night and finds carrots and hay for his horse or donkey along with children's wish lists. Small treats are also left in shoes or stockings so the children will know if he has been by the lack thereof in the morning.
In some countries it is St Nicholas' day that is the prominent gift-giving day and not Christmas itself. Parties may be held on the evening of 5 December with shoes or stockings being left out for the saint to fill when he visits during the night.
Did you know...?
Santa has approximately 31 hours in which to deliver all his gifts on Christmas Eve, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, and assuming that he travels from east to west.
You can find out more about the origins of one of the world's most popular saints in What is Myrrh Anyway? and Christmas Miscellany - both available now!