December 6 is St. Nicholas Day. This feast day is celebrated in different ways in different countries. Here in Romania the tradition is to put cleaned and polished shoes out on a windowsill or by the door on the night of December 5.
Overnight St. Nicholas comes and places presents inside. Presents might be chocolates or other sweets, nuts, oranges, or small gifts.
For children who have been bad or need to be reminded to do better a twig with gold, silver, or bronze is left.
One Romanian told me that these sticks are most often placed in shoes along with candy to acknowledge that the child has done some naughty things over the year.
Spray painted twigs were in abundance in Cluj on December 5. And business was brisk.
I put my hiking boot on the windowsill in the kitchen last night, with hopes St. Nicholas would visit. I didn’t polish it because, well, it is a hiking boot. Nonetheless, my boot had an orange, chocolate, and a painted twig in it come morning. Thanks St. Nicholas!
The children and adults named Nicholas, or some derivative, also celebrate their name day on December 6. As far as I can tell here in Cluj your name day is like another birthday, with cake and celebration. Popular name days also get church services in the Orthodox churches. The Orthodox church near me is madly pealing its bell this morning.
I think these Romanians have a good idea going. Birthdays and name days! St. Nicholas Day and Christmas! Bring on the celebrations.