Feast Day and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

It's no secret that we love Christmas, a cherished holiday celebrated by people all over the world. But, how did this special day and one of its classic traditions, stockings, originate? We wanted the answers, so we started a hunt to track down the original Santa Claus, carefully retracing his steps to better understand the real essence Christmas.

First, let's pay tribute to the original Claus and gentleman who started it all, Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas, a fourth century Bishop, isn't exactly how you might picture him. He's not clothed in luxurious red cloaks with white trim and a fluffy, long white beard. He doesn't shimmy down the chimney pipe, and he doesn't have a magical bag of toys that automatically refills. (We know what you're thinking: bummer.) But, what he did have, similar to that of Santa Claus today, is an untouchable, altruistic spirit wrapped and bound in infinite gratitude. Losing both parents when he was young, he pushed forward, dedicating himself to a lifetime full of service and generosity. And so, as the story goes, he used his inheritance for good, depositing baskets full of food and clothes for the needy on doorsteps. This generous act, in part, is what helped cultivate Feast Day.

December 6 marks Feast Day, a festival dedicated to Saint Nicholas on the day of his passing. European tradition calls for children to leave their shoes outside of their bedroom doors on the eve of the feast, to awake in the morning to shoes filled with goodies, sweets, fruits and nuts. (Today, many of us use stockings instead of shoes.) Or, on the much more unpleasant side, a lump of coal. Have you been naughty or nice?

This got us to thinking about modern day, and what we'd like to find in our stockings. So, we compiled this must-have list of sweet treats. Just bear in mind, if you're hanging your stockings near a lit fire, you may want to leave out the chocolate. No one likes a melty pile of chocolate goo in their socks!

To see what treats you can hang in your stockings over the chimney with care this year, check out our slideshow above!