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The Christian festival of Saint Nicholas is observed on December 6 throughout western Europe and in some eastern European countries including Romania and Hungary. Saint Nicholas is the prototype for Santa Claus, and he has for centuries been associated with being a bringer of gifts. Each country has a different way of celebrating the festival: I remember in my childhood walking to my local village church in Austria in a candlelit procession, breathing in the icy air and feeling how magical it was. Putting gifts under pillows, leaving out shoes or clogs to receive money and dressing up as bishops are among the ways that the festival is celebrated.
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