In our tradition St. Nick comes the night of December 6th and leaves something for the good kids, in their polished shoes prepared by the door... hmm... sounds familiar?
That's because Santa Claus is really St. Nicholas! Somewhat in the Western civilizations St. Nick was 'pushed' to Christmas and thus stockings are hanged on Christmas Eve. Kids have been polishing their shoes and leaving them by the door so the Saint will drop something for them. If they've been nice - a small gift (usually fruits and chocolates) will wait for them in the morning. If they've been naughty - a silver stick will be there instead.
A few years back my mom, exasperated with a class of elementary school, brought each of them a gift on St. Nicholas: a silver stick, wrapped nicely in cellophane with a tag. Apparently they were completely taken aback: nobody before had ever brought them the stick!
And what happens in our culture at Christmas? Father Christmas arrives with toys - no reindeers, though, and I simply cannot recall if 'our' Father Christmas lives at the North Pole or not (I recall rather a Nordic country - Finland or so).
The funniest part? Because the communists declared Christmas kind of illegal (any religious celebration was viewed as retrograde and 'bad for the new society'...) people invented instead a Father Frost - which we were to celebrate on New Year's Eve. The result? Kids will receive gifts (nothing fancy, but gifts nonetheless) 3 times: on St. Nicholas, on Christmas, and on New Year's Eve!
And with no link to St. Nick whatsoever - today I am 'gifting' you the casual version of 'Briana'; or as casual as I can go (apparently no matter how casual I get the high heels are a must!)