Different cultural expressions of St. Nick derive from their places of origin. In the Netherlands, children place their wooden shoes outside on Dec 5th (the night before the feast of Saint Nickolas) and food was placed in those shoes for the children to receive early Dec 6th. The hanging of stocking to receive presents comes from a gold finding its way into a wet sock hanging to dry by the fire for a poor man's daughter as a dowry so she could be wed. All of these stories relate to Saint Nickolas, who used his inheritance of his rich parents to provide for those in need, especially the poor. The cultural traditions surrounding St. Nickolas derive from his generosity.
The thing that is left out of many of the stories of St. Nickolas is his faithfulness. The reason he used his inheritance from his parents and distributed it to the poor is based upon the teachings of Scripture from those very pious parents. After their death, his uncle, Bishop Nicholas of Patara, ordained him as his assistant. After his ordination Nickolas became a teacher of the faith, a catechist.
St. Nick took his faith so seriously he became Archbishop of Myra (in Asia Minor). He was at the first council of churches in Nicea, a gathering of church leaders to establish what it is all Christians believe. The main issue that the council wrestled with was the relationship between Jesus as Son of Man to God the Father. At the council was a man named Arius who rejected the idea of Jesus divinity (that he was the son of God). At one point in the council, Arius stood on his chair to speak more loudly, probably because his idea is against church teaching or Heresy. As he stood on his chair, it is believed that St. Nickolas walked over to Arius and grabed him by the beard and punched him in the face. Because of this his bishop's robe was stripped of him and he was locked in prison. But it is said that he was visited in prison by the Holy Family and restored of his robe. Because of this he was restored his seat at the council where he slept through many of the remaining procedings.
SO...If you are celebrating St. Nickolas Day Dec 6th, do it by punching a heretic in the face or by sleeping through a boring meeting. Happy St. Nickolas day....praying attention - Pastor Andy