Many children around the world for many generations looked forward to December 6 with great anticipation. That was the day they expected a generous visitor to their homes. It wasn't Christmas Eve that he would arrive, but a few weeks earlier - on his very own feast day: the feast of Saint Nicholas.
You can find a charming story about the Saint Nicholas day memories of one little girl (now all grown up) at An Irish Christmas - Waiting for St. Nicholas. Bridget Haggerty tells us how Saint Nicholas eve was the day that began the fun and festivities of the holiday season: "when we put our shoes on the hearth, hoping St. Nicholas would come."
She tells of her mother's annual tradition of telling her children about the story of Saint Nicholas and his good deeds. The next morning it was a dash from the bed to the fireplace to discover what their shoes might be filled with.
If you're reading this on December 5, tonight's the night. Maybe you should polish your shoes and set them out. You never know what goodies they might be filled with in the morning. If Saint Nicholas does rounds in your neighborhood, that is.
If not, as the Irish say, "May yours be the first house in the parish to welcome St. Nicholas.”
Irish Father Christmas image courtesy of All Posters.
This article is part of a series written in celebration of the Advent and Christmas seasons. It will be included as part of the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2009 Day 6: Santa Claus. Make a visit to Thomas MacEntee's GeneaBloggers website for some additional inspiration to get yourself in the holiday spirit!
The article originally appeared here at Small-leaved Shamrock and was included in Thomas MacEntee's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2007.