By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (December 6, 2023) – Today’s edition of Fun with Maps describes a favorite holiday gift-giving tradition.


Happy St. Nicholas Day!  Time to celebrate one of the busiest saints around.

St. Nicholas is the patron saint of Russia and Greece, sailors and travelers, charitable organizations and children, merchants and pawnbrokers.  His benevolent miracles have given him the association with gift-giving.

In Holland Sinterklaas, as St. Nicholas is pronounced in Dutch, took on legendary status as a figure who spent weeks riding through towns and observing behaviors before visiting houses, rewarding nice children with presents and punishing the naughty ones.

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day actually begins on the night of December 5th when children put their shoes outside in hopes of

St. Nicholas leaving something for them.  Since he travels by horseback, the shoes are often filled with carrots and hay for his white horse.

Traditional St. Nicholas presents are chocolate coins, oranges, and small candies. 

The candy cane represents the staff he carries.  A family tradition might involve children carrying out a kind deed in secret to personify the saint.  Sharing riddles and puzzles is also popular.

St. Nicholas day is observed in most parts of Europe, and thus we are presenting here Woodridge’s map of the continent from 1821.  

Europe – 1821 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.