St. Nicholas and Your Shoes! A St. Nicholas Day Tradition


December 6 is the feast day of St. Nicholas, which appropriately falls during the Advent season.  This feast day is an especially exciting one for children as they count down the days on their Advent calendars in anticipation of Christmas day.

One of the old Christian traditions surrounding St. Nicholas’ feast day is for kids to leave their shoes out overnight in front of the fireplace, on the windowsill, or outside their bedroom door so that St. Nicholas can fill their shoes with special fruits, candies, and other small gifts and treats.

Another cute part of this tradition is for kids to leave carrots or hay in their shoes for St. Nicholas’ donkey to eat.  St. Nicholas takes the hay and carrots for his donkey and replaces them with small gifts and treats for the children.

St. Therese of Lisieux describes this tradition in her home as a small child and recounts how much she loved it. However, for her family this happened not on St. Nicholas’ feast day but on Christmas Eve (similar to our American tradition of hanging the stockings by the fireplace).

“I knew that when we reached home after Midnight Mass I should find my shoes in the chimney-corner, filled with presents, just as when I was a little child . . . Papa, too, liked to watch my enjoyment and hear my cries of delight at each fresh surprise that came from the magic shoes, and his pleasure added to mine.”  ~ St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul

Continuing this Advent tradition in your own home is a great way to teach your children to venerate the saints and to deepen their knowledge of and love for the Christian faith.  St. Nicholas feast day traditions vary widely from country to country, but they all carry the same theme of small gifts and treats left in either shoes or stockings.  Have fun reading about the variety of some of these stories here as families share their own St. Nicholas day traditions past and present.

About Gretchen

Gretchen is a recent convert and completely in love with the Catholic faith. She is very active in her parish and has recently joined the Lay Dominicans. She has special interests in theology, Thomistic philosophy, & politics. She holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics & currently works on copywriting and social media for The Catholic Company.
This entry was posted in Catholic Gifts, Family Traditions, Holy Day, Patron Saints and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to St. Nicholas and Your Shoes! A St. Nicholas Day Tradition

  1. Sue says:

    Being of Slovenian descent – we always had this tradition growing up. December 6th was the feast of St. Nicholas – we called him Miklavž (pronounced mi-klowzh). He was always accompanied by the devil (Krampusz) (who he had under control by keeping him on a chain so he couldn’t hurt the boys and girls) and sometimes an angel. We would put our shoes out by the front door at night on December 5th. Would we get a willow switch in our shoe (if we were bad) or get a shoe full of candy? Then we heard the dreaded chain banging outside – getting closer and closer and we knew he was coming. We would crouch down and hope the devil wouldn’t knock on our door, but he always did and my mom would tell him to go away. We’d open the door and were usually disappointed to see a golden stick in our shoe (cuz lets face it – kids are never 100% good!) Then we would promise to be good and say a prayer and beg Miklavž to come back. We’d hear footsteps at the front door and chains in the distance. We’d wait a few minutes until my mom looked out the window to make sure the coast was clear – then we’d open the door and see our shoes FULL of chocolates and candy and sometimes some coins. My Dad always walked into the house after Miklavž was gone – and we told him all about what happened. It’s funny how he was never in the house at time. ;)
    Great memories and a wonderful tradition! Thanks Mom and Dad!

  2. Mary says:

    Thank you for promoting the beautiful traditions and saints of our Catholic Faith. I love to share your posts on my site. God bless.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>