The Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6th)
St. Nicholas lives in Spain with his steadfast companion, Black Piet. Every December for as long as anyone can remember, the old bishop and his friend take their boat to the Netherlands.
During the long trip preparations are made. Letters are written, gifts wrapped, and rows of burlap bags full of candy are stored in the cargo hold. Black Piet brushes the beautiful white horse, and the Saint checks one more time, who gets gifts and who gets a lump of coal.
After the long trip they finally see the Dutch shore. It is much colder here than in Spain and the Saint and the Moor pull on warm woolly underthings. His horse gets a warm blanket, and an extra thick layer of hay.
For several days they make stops all along the shores of towns in the Netherlands where cheering children have gathered to welcome the Saint.
Black Piet throws handfuls of candy and traditional pepernoten into crowds of delighted little children. Children have the chance to see and speak with the Saint and ask special favors. Black Piet can sometimes be talked into performing magic.
From one town to another the Saint travels, hearing the songs of children. Before you know it it is the Eve of St. Nicholas day, the feast that honors the Saint for being the patron of all little children everywhere.
This is the night the Saint, with the help of his good friend Black Piet and his faithful horse, travel from house to house leaving gifts and candies to good children and lumps of coal to bad children. He moves so fast he cannot be seen except if you are lucky a brief flash of his gown, his horse's tail maybe?
All in one night, from town, to village, to farms and apartments, they travel as can only be explained by magic, to each and every child's home. Where a treat has been left alongside a waiting shoe, a shoe is filled with goodies or a lump of coal. Sometimes the Saint leaves a letter asking for improvement, or remarking that good effort has been made, and other comments he wishes to make.
The snacks, suck as carrots, cookies, apples and warm milk, are much appreciated, as they work the long night at magic speed so no child shall be disappointed. Even the poorest child shall have some chocolates, and maybe a new pair of socks or small toy in the morning.
As Children everywhere delight in finding gifts in their shoes that morning, the Saint is already arriving back in spain for a well deserved break on the day that bears his name.
His gift is knowing that there are children who, thanks to his efforts, are just a little happier this day.