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Christmas is the much-anticipated holiday that many people especially teens and younger children -- spend the whole year looking forward to. The traditions that are soon to be celebrated seem to excite almost everyone.

Many families around the world also celebrate St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6), a predecessor to Christmas that has that same enchantment and is seen by some as the start of the Christmas season.

"Every year we leave a note to St. Nicholas telling him how good we've been," Emily Priester, a junior at Springville-Griffith Institute, said with a laugh. "Then the next morning we get a note back from him saying that we've been great, of course, along with a little something like candy or earrings."

Emily began celebrating St. Nicholas Day along with her family when she was 5 years old.

"I heard other kids at school talking about it, so I asked my parents about it," Emily said. "Now it is something that we do every year. Madeline and Peter [my younger siblings] have been celebrating it their whole lives."

Also known as Sinterklaas, Nicholas, a fourth-century Turkish bishop became well-known for his generosity to the those in need and his love for children.

People in America began celebrating St. Nicholas Day when the Dutch brought the tradition with them to New York during colonial times.

"I relate St. Nicholas a lot with Santa Claus. Both come in the night and leave a little something for you," Emily said.

Tradition has St. Nicholas visiting homes Dec. 6, and leaving a treat for good children in their shoes. Legend has it that if children were bad, he might take them back to his homeland of Spain in a sack or whip them with a switch -- lightly, of course.

"It really gets you into the holiday spirit," said Elise Roy, a senior at Nichols. "We usually get candy, and St. Nicholas has never whipped me before. It's just so fun and cute."

St. Nicholas Day is usually celebrated in Europe. In America, it's often celebrated by people of German, Dutch or Ukrainian descent.

"We are a little German, which was how we knew a little about St. Nicholas Day," said Emily. "It is something that we celebrate and look forward to every year. I will continue to celebrate it for the rest of my life, plus it's always a great way to kick off the Christmas season!"

Many Christmas traditions began with St. Nicholas Day, including giving gifts secretly in the night, candy canes that represent Sinterklaas' bishop staff, and the spirit of giving, especially to the needy. All of these things have become Christmas traditions.

"Celebrating St. Nicholas Day does make Christmas more exciting," said Daneale Zickl, a junior at Springville. "I was very excited when I celebrated St. Nick's Day with my cousins. It was a fun experience when I celebrated it -- and I will never forget the joy St. Nicholas Day brought for me."

Alissa Roy is a junior at Springville-Griffith Institute.