The story of St. Nicholas Day
While feasts of Saint Nicholas are not observed nationally, cities with strong German influences like Milwaukee, Cincinnati and St. Louis celebrate St. Nick’s Day on a scale similar to the German custom.
As in other countries, many people in the United States celebrate a separate St Nicholas Day by putting their shoes outside their bedroom doors or hanging an empty stocking by the fireplace on the evening of 5 December. St Nicholas then comes during the night. On the morning of 6 December, those people will find their shoes/stockings filled with gifts and sugary treats.
Widespread adoption of the tradition has spread among the German, Polish, Belgian and Dutch communities throughout the United States. Americans who celebrate Saint Nicholas Day generally also celebrate Christmas Day (December 25) as a separate holiday.
Some of the traditions and rituals of Christmas, such as leaving out a shoe or stocking to be filled, are similar to the traditions of Saint Nicholas Day – The gospel according to Wikipedia 😉
We never celebrated it at my house growing up. My introduction came from my German, Catholic husband in 2003. I am all for any holiday that brings candy and gifts!