On the eve of December 5th throughout parts of Europe, Krampus makes his appearance. The strange creature sent to punish naughty children. On the morning of December 6th however, Saint Nicholas has made his appearance leaving small gifts or sweet treats for those children who were nice.
If we look to Europe we can see a connection between Wild Hunt figures and the Santa Claus mythos tied to a concept of reward and punishment. We also see that the Norse god Odin has connections to the Santa Claus mythos as well in more than one way, but especially as he has three epithets that connect to the holytide listed in the skaldic poem Óðins nöfn: Oski (God of Wishes), Jólnir (Yule Figure) and Jölfuðr (Yule Father).
There is a small movement among Northern Tradition polytheists to reclaim December 6th, and celebrate it not in honor of Saint Nicholas, but rather in honor of Odin in his guise as Oski. The purpose is not to break the bank with this, but rather to share a little yuletide cheer. Edible treats typical of the season (cookies, candy, chocolate, apples, oranges, nuts) would be appropriate, and other small trinkets. In other parts of the world, including America, we have instead the tradition of setting out stockings Christmas Eve for Santa to deliver some goodies for us. So to think of ‘stocking stuffers’ is a good rubrik in terms of what to gift, but I offer this caution: the ‘stockings’ we so commonly use in our decorations are ridiculously big. In Europe, for December 6th it is shoes that are filled, most commonly a shoe is placed outside the door, though in some households they may opt to have a designated area where the shoes are left. Some will use their actual shoes, but others will use special clogs kept just for the holiday for these purposes (which is a nicer way to avoid shoes that are stinky). So there’s not alot of real estate available to fill up with goodies. This is not where to show your gift giving American largesse.
Just as there are traditions for leaving out milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, and maybe some carrots for the reindeer, in parts of Europe they may leave some hay, carrots or other appropriate treat in the shoes for St Nicholas’ white horse. Many Northern Tradition polytheists will instead include treats for Odin’s horse, Sleipnir. This is a tradition that lends itself well to the magic of the season, and especially to those with younger children. But even as I write this I set on a small collection of wrapped goodies I’ve received from friends and kindred members, waiting to open them on December 6th, and I have a few small things that I’ve sent off to others as well with instructions they have to wait till the 6th.