Saint Nicholas (Moș Nicolae or Moș Neculai) is a legendary, mythical character, who brings gifts to children on Saint Nicholas’ Eve, namely on the night of 5th of December. The character has correspondents throughout Central Europe as follows: Mikulás in Hungary, Mikuláš in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Mikołaj in Poland. The character is very similar to Santa Clause, both being an adjustment of Saint Nicholas, wearing red clothes and offering gifts.
Children must have clean shoes
In the night between 5th to 6th of December, children know they must prepare their shoes or boots, because Saint Nicholas will visit them bearing gifts. Disobedient children get a symbolic little twig, so that they obey their parents and grandparents. Even though Saint Nicholas is always in a rush to get to children all over the world, he makes time to listen every child’s wishes. According to the Romanian traditions, Saint Nicholas comes up on a white horse, thus referring to the first snow falling at the beginning of winter, he helps all those in need, orphans, and widows, he masters the seas and saves the sailors from drowning, he protects soldiers at war.
According to the people’s belief, Saint Nicholas is also known as Sân-Nicoară. In some regions of the country, on Saint Nicholas day, people bring fruit tree little branches in their houses, which they keep in water, near icons, so they would grow until New Year’s Eve. And if these branches are to blossom until the year is over, the year to come shall be very productive and full of satisfactions. In other regions, girls gather in the holiday’s eve to bake pies, and in the evening, young boys burst in to taste all those treats.
In the villages, on Saint Nicholas day, young boys gather in crews, choose their host where they will rehearse for the carols to sing on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
People believe that on Saint Nicholas day the winter begins, in the true sense of the term. This day, the Old Man shakes its white beard and it starts snowing. And if it doesn’t snow, it means that Saint Nicholas got younger.