St. Nicholas is such a wonderful saint and it's fun to discover that "Santa Claus" is just "Saint Nicholas" in a different language.
When I got married I discovered St. Nicholas in a new way. We settled near my husband's family in the Milwaukee area (I'm from California), where it is customary for the general population to celebrate St. Nicholas day. People (generally) hang their stockings on Dec. 5 instead of Dec. 24 and children wake up on Dec. 6 to a mini Christmas. Stores on Dec. 5 are extra-extra busy and people are chatting about St. Nicholas day and stockings and creative ways of getting them filled with things besides candy (Christmas socks and mittens are big hits around here).
Our children place a Christmas wish list and a letter to Baby Jesus in their stockings on St. Nicholas Eve.
Anyway, it's really neat to share this Christian tradition with the general population. Does anyone know of other places that St. Nicholas Day is still celebrated (I assume that it is celebrated in the Netherlands)?