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Neela Kale Answers:
St. Nicholas, upon whom the figure of Santa Claus is based, was the bishop of Myra (today called Demre), on the Mediterranean coast of modern-day Turkey. He lived from 270-346. Nicholas was renowned for his generosity and also revered as a miracle worker, although little is known about his life. According to legend, Nicholas secretly tossed bags of gold into the window of the home of a poor family whose three daughters had no dowry; by providing them the means to marry he saved them from a life of destitution. Nicholas was also said to have left coins in shoes left out for him as he passed by. Out of this legend grows the tradition in which children set out their shoes on the eve of his feast day, December 6, in the hopes of finding candy, money or toys in them in the morning. St. Nicholas’ Day is widely observed in Europe, while in the United States the figure of Santa Claus, who brings gifts on December 25, is better known.