“One of the things that I think is starting to die out, because I’m hearing less and less of it, but that was always big in my family, is Saint Nicholas’ Day. On, uh…December sixth, or December fifth…see, I’m starting to lose it. But it’s, uh… So every Saint Nicholas’ Day, we would, uh, all of us kids would take our shoes and put them out right inside the front door. And the next morning, we would find them filled with candy and sometimes action figures, and all kinds of stuff like that. I think, uh, when I was about fifteen, my parents put oranges, so that kinda killed the tradition. But, that was always a holiday we celebrated.
I’m pretty sure it’s Eastern European. My grandma is really deeply Hungarian, so she did that with my dad.”
My informant describes a traditional European holiday. It seems to be prevalent throughout Europe, not just in Eastern Europe, like he thought. Holidays where children are given presents other than just on Christmas Day used to be fairly common in many Christian countries, but, as he notes, they seem to be dying out (at least in America). Although he says that the gift of oranges ruined the holiday for him, oranges are a traditional Christmas and yuletide present, especially for those of the older generation. The fact that the children put out shoes is interesting; they serve as a kind of precursor to the perhaps more common practice of hanging one’s stocking on Christmas Eve.