United States

St. Nicholas with children
St. Nicholas Breakfast, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Portland, Oregon

Bishop St. Nicholas is celebrated by many churches and by communities which have a Dutch, German, or Ukrainian heritage. On the Advent Sunday closest to St. Nicholas Day, December 6, churches may have St. Nicholas festivals, large or small, with the good saint himself appearing to greet children, give instruction and encouragement, and hand out treats for children of all ages.

In some places he is a focus in worship and in others he is part of a special fellowship event.

St. Nicholas may also be the inspiration for a special Advent project—one which shows his concern for justice and relief of suffering.

These observances are most prevalent in Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Episcopal churches, though not uncommon in many others, as well.

St. Nicholas, as Sinterklaas, makes his appearance in towns and cities founded by Dutch settlers. There he usually comes in a parade, accompanied by Pieten, as he does in the Netherlands. The Piets toss candy to bystanders along the parade route. After the parade, Sinterklaas greets children and gives them sweet treats. Some of the places where Sinterklaas is part of the season are Holland, Michigan; Pella and Orange City, Iowa; Fulton, Illinois.

The German Sankt Nikolaus appears in New Ulm, Minnesota, and places in Pennsylvania. The tradition is also said to be established in Wisconsin, particularly Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio, and St. Louis, Missouri.

In Milwaukee children don't write letters to Santa; they hang stockings on St. Nicholas Eve with a wish list for Santa. St. Nick comes to each house, collecting the wish lists and filling stockings with candy and toys for good children and coal for naughty ones. The coal is a warning to get one's act together in the next three weeks before Christmas. Schools alert new families so no one will be left out.

Sinterklaas on horse in street parade
Sinterklaas Arrives in Holland, MI Photo: DGM
Sinterklaas with children
Sinterklaas greets children at the Holland Museum
Holland, MI Photo: DGM

St. Nicholas is in Chicago!
Where? Public places, schools and churches