Winter is full of magical gift-givers. And even the figure Americans know best, Santa Claus, has different names and arrives on different days, depending on where you live. Throughout much of Europe, he is known as Saint Nicholas.
In the Netherlands, children put their wooden shoes (or sometimes baskets) by the mantel on the eve of Saint Nicholas (December 5) and expect to find them filled with treats the next morning. Saint Nicholas rides through the air on his white horse and comes down the chimney to fill the shoes or baskets. Carrots and hay are left out for his white horse.
Czech and Slovakian kids believe he comes down a golden cord carrying a basket of apples, nuts, and candies. In Hungary, the shoes are left outside a window; in France, children hang stockings near the fire. Continue reading