On the evening before December 6, German children scrub their shoes and place them carefully in front of the door, anticipating an overnight visit from the benevolent Saint Nicholas, or Sankt Nikolaus, as he is known in Germany.
In some families, it is traditional to hang stockings by the fireplace instead. Many years ago, children were excited to find tangerines, apples, nuts or baked goods in their shoes or stockings. Today, they look forward to a chocolate Nicholas, sweets and small toys.
The day is named after Saint Nicholas of Myra who was a bishop in what is now Turkey. Nicholas was known for many things, including generosity towards the poor and secret gift giving.