Today is Saint Nicholas Day! Here is some basic info on Saint Nicholas from MyCatholic.com:
St. Nicholas of Myra
Nicholas was a priest, an abbot, and a bishop of Myra. Once, he helped a poor family by dropping bags of gold coins in a window, landing in a stocking hung up to dry. Thus, the story of Santa Claus was born. He was known for his holiness, zeal, and astonishing miracles–even raising people from the dead.
Check out the Saint Nicholas Center website today. It is a wealth of information about today's saint and the origin of Santa Claus. For many cultures and in many times, Saint Nicholas Day was the gift giving day and Christmas day was a holy day only.
I like to use Saint Nicholas Day as a day to focus on the Christian meaning of the holidays. I often would buy a holy card or something similar to go along with the candy that Saint Nicholas bought. One year, Saint Nicholas even brought a gold fish in a gold fish bowl!
An appropriate children's video to watch on Saint Nicholas Day is called, Nicholas, the Boy Who Became Santa. Its a good explanation of Santa Claus with a Christian perspective.
There are some churches who like to have someone dress up as Saint Nicholas for the children--I think its a great way to take back the Christmas message from the total secularization of the world.
Saint Nicholas, help us all to be generous and loving, and to keep the true spirit of Christmas in our hearts all year long!