During World War II, it was the idea of an American soldier. Harry Stutz to bring joy and happiness to the children of the town of Wiltz, Luxembourg by having his army buddy, Richard Brookins, dress up as St. Nicholas and give out presents and sweets to the children at a party. This was done on Dec. 5, St. Nicholas Day, in 1944.
The last time that the people of Wiltz had been able to celebrate was in 1939, so you can be sure that this was very special to the children and to all the townspeople. They have remembered it to this day.
The story of how the American St. Nick has been honored is the subject of a book called, "The American St. Nick" by Peter Lion. Richard Brookins, the soldier who dressed as St. Nick, first went back to Wiltz in 1977 and has been back several times since. They even have a statue of St. Nick...but the one there has an American army helmet in his hand! I just watched a documentary on this on PBS and in case you didn't see it, I think it will be repeated the day after Christmas, so look out for it. You don't want to miss it! It is just very, very well done, I loved every minute of it, right down to the music. You may find much more information about it just here.
You know, it might seem like such a small thing...to dress as St. Nicholas for children...but if you go to that link that I gave you...you will see for yourself, it is a miracle what a small act of kindness can do.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
World War II Foundation