Welcome to our Online Advent Calendar series, where we’re doing 25 days of Christmas challenges to get everyone into the spirit! (Today’s video is “What Do You Know? The Story Behind Santa Claus” by Steve Frech.)

Celebrate St. Nicholas Day!

This morning, kids throughout Europe (and some in the U.S.) are checking their boots or stockings (or under their pillows) for a few treats from St. Nicholas, a real 4th-century saint known for his generosity and kindness towards children. (You can learn all about him in the video above.)

The story is that St. Nicholas leaves Heaven one day a year to get the children spiritually ready for  Christmas. He gives the good children treats, like oranges, chocolate and small toys. Bad kids get switches and roughly three weeks to get their acts together.

So, if you’ve never celebrated St. Nicholas Day, what can you do today?

  • Be generous. Keep some cash on hand to donate or give to someone who needs it. (When I was a poor college student, Mama would occasionally slip a $20 into my coat pocket. Be sneaky.)
  • Hang up your stocking(s).
  • Bake (or just eat) some gingerbread or gingerbread cookies. (Gingerbread is part of the celebration in France.)
  • Grab a Gingerbread Latte at Starbucks (or some gingerbread coffee creamer at the grocery).
  • Sneak a small (but obvious) treat into someone’s empty shoe.
  • Read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” (originally “A Visit from St. Nicholas”).
  • Treat yourself (or someone else) to a Lindt chocolate Santa.
  • Light a gingerbread-scented candle.
  • Listen to one of the “St. Nick” Christmas songs, like “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” “Up on the Housetop” or the Beach Boys’ “Little St. Nick.”
  • If you have kiddos, put an early treat in their stockings and tell them they must be on the right track.
  • Pass out some hot chocolate, and have your kids write their letters to Santa.
  • Get your art appreciation on by learning more about Jan Steen’s “The Feast of Saint Nicholas.”

Today’s Link: “Scared of Santa” (Chicago Tribune) 

Selected Christmas TV:

  • Frosty’s Winter Wonderland (1pm/12:30pm, ABC Family)
  • Trading Christmas (2pm/1c, Hallmark)
  • Boys Town (4:15pm/3:15c, TCM)
  • It’s A Wonderful Life (8pm/7c, NBC)
  • Arthur Christmas (9pm/8c, ABC Family)
  • Dear Santa (10pm/9c, Lifetime)