While many of us are scurrying around thinking of gift ideas and readying those stockings to hang "from the chimney with care," the Dutch children have already received their gifts. December 6 in the Netherlands is St. Nicholas Day and the evening before (December 5) the children put out their wooden shoes in hope of receiving sweets and presents from Sinter Klaas.
Instead of cookies, the Dutch children put hay and carrots in their shoes as a treat for Sinter Klaas' white horse that he rides through town. The children's treats are replaced with presents to be enjoyed on St. Nicholas Day.
There are often parties on St. Nicholas Eve and anonymous presents are exchanged with poems or sayings that give a clue to the giver.
For the most part, Christmas Day is a quieter holiday with church services and a family meal. Some children believe that Santa Claus (not to be confused with Sinter Klaas) who lives in Lapland in Finland comes on Christmas Eve to bring a small gift of a book or orange or biscuits.