I was born in Salzburg, Austria, a city populated primarily with Roman Catholics. We began each year’s celebration of the birth of Christ with Advent on the first Sunday in December. As children, nearly a century ago, our traditions were quite different from those I share with my family in North America today. For one thing, we were not permitted see the decorated Christmas tree until Christmas Eve. And for another, we did not have a ‘Santa Claus’, the roly-poly jolly man shouting “Ho-Ho-Ho!” with a toy factory at the North Pole and a sled drawn by magic flying reindeer.
Saint Nicholas was a Greek Bishop of the 4th century and was canonized as the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants and pawnbrokers, for the miracles that were attributed to him at that time.
I do not know when it became a custom in Austria for Saint Nicholas to make…
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