Are you celebrating St. Nick’s?

When you wake up on the morning of Dec. 6, will there be a stocking full of candy and maybe even a piece of fruit in it waiting for you?  Or maybe some small gifts?

If you answered yes, you’re one of most Milwaukeeans who participate a tradition known as St. Nick’s Day.

Do you celebrate this holiday?

For some who have moved to Milwaukee from other cities, this is a new phenomenon.  And if you just can’t wait for Christmas -- this could be a nice little tradition to adopt to help tide you over for the next two and half weeks of anticipation.

A few years ago, I was one of the uninitiated. I found a couple of presents in the living room that I left untouched, figuring my boyfriend just wrapped some gifts early and I was supposed to wait until Dec. 25 to open them.  The St. Nick’s Day tradition was then explained to me.  Growing up in Kentucky, even though my father’s side of the family is mostly Polish Michiganders, I had never heard of it.  Of course, once I got up-to-speed on the custom, I complied and turned into a little kid and gleefully ripped open the gifts of candy and CDs. 

A quick introduction to the man of the day:

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of a long list of types of people including children, bakers, merchants, sailors, newlyweds, and shoe shiners.  He lived in the 4th century and some of his greater feats during his colorful life include reviving murder victims and rescuing women from a life of prostitution.  Saint Nicholas is the figure who evolved into the legend of Santa Claus and is known for his secret gift-giving.

If you trace several of the rituals celebrated in Europe around the birthday and benevolence of St. Nicholas, you can see how they‚Äôve evolved to our Americanized and personal celebrations in modern Milwaukee. Since we have such a strong sense of heritage in our city, it follows that so many immigrants who originally populated this city brought those holiday traditions with them to continue.…Read more...