In Poland and large part Eurasia (Catholic and Orthodox Christians) we observe Saint Nicholas Day (in Polish: Święty Mikołaj) . It always falls on December 6.
In a nutshell: Nicholas is an original St.Claus . He lived in 4th century in modern day Turkey. He was a bishop and he used his entire inheritance and powers to help people in need. He was doing it secretly.
"Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:34)The traditions and many legends vary from country to country but the spirit of love and giving is the main theme.
These days on December 5 before going to bed, children clean and put their shoes out hoping that St.Nick will bring them little gifts (small toys or sweets). In some homes St.Nicholas puts the gifts under the pillows. This is also a perfect time to leave in a shoe or under a pillow the christmas wish list:-)
Because St. Nicholas is a symbol of giving and helping poor - many parents use his story to teach kids that it is better to give than to receive. Some parents help their kids to look through their toys and pick one good toy or use the allowance to buy one and to donate to less privileged. I am thinking about doing that with Lucy this year. We are reading now the Rainbow Fish story by Marcus Pfister that should nicely reinforce the idea of giving. My mom read to us The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen to help us understand tragedy of poor but I think I was older.
Tomorrow I am going to tell the story of Święty Mikołaj to Lucy's group at Child Development Center.