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Today marks the beginning of another December holiday known as Saint Nicholas Day, aSaint Nicholas gift- giving holiday that stems from ancient Greece. Will you and your family be celebrating?

St. Nick’s Day is a big holiday in Europe but is not nearly as common here in the United States. It all started back in 4th century Greece. Nicholas’ parents died in an epidemic when he was a young boy but left him with a large sum of money. With his inheritance, he decided to use his wealth to help the sick, the needy and the suffering. His most popular act was to leaving gold coins in people’s shoes around the city. He became known across the land for his generosity. After dedicating his life of service to others, Nicholas of Myra was officiated as a bishop.

European immigrants brought their beliefs and associations around Saint Nicholas Day. The earliest records observe the holiday in big cities such as New York City in the early 1800s. Of course, the tradition has since evolved since making its way to North America. Today, children hang their stockings on the fireplace mantel and awake to small gifts of candy, games and other fun trinkets. However, there is always the chance that naughty children will wake to a sad lump of coal.

If you’ve been through a checkout line in a superstore anytime in the recent future, you know there are all sorts of stocking stuffer ideas out there. Kids of all ages will love stickers, candy, cookies, jewelry, toy cars, fruit, building blocks and bottles of nail polish. But we have an idea for another extra special gift to add to the list.

In addition to small knickknacks, consider teaching your children the value of charity by giving a donation in his or her name. Print off the certificate and add it to their stocking. Then you can explain to them how their special gift helps others. For example, with a donation to Lions Pride, they are helping children with special needs have fun at a week of summer camp, meeting new friends and building life-changing skills – an experience that he or she will treasure for a lifetime.

This holiday season, embody the spirit of Saint Nicholas with a gift that gives back. After all, isn’t it the reason behind season?

Happy Saint Nicholas Day from Lions Pride!