For those who don’t know this, St. Nicholas was a real person, a fourth century bishop from Myra in Lycia (Asia Minor, modern day Turkey). He was especially known for being extraordinarily generous.
My favorite story about him:
A desperately poor father feels forced to take a drastic and horrific step- selling his two daughters, who cannot afford doweries to get married, into slavery (this tragedy still happens in third world countries). St. Nicholas digs into his personal resources. In the middle of the night, he quietly approaches the house of this man and his daughters and throws two bags of gold through the window into the house and quickly slips away to escape notice. So now the daughters can afford doweries; they will not be sold into slavery.
I will not speculate as to how this story became known.
This is how I remember the story; here’s a web page that corrects me. It was 3 daughters. Read the whole story: http://www.antiochian.org/node/18586
Khorea Donna Farley shares a story she feels would rejoice St. Nicholas’ heart, a year ago, about a disabled man who built a boat with ice cream sticks, and sailed it: http://storyspell.blogspot.com/2008/12/viking-ship-sails-to-give-not-loot.html
Check out a picture of the Viking Ship: http://www.daylife.com/photo/01hIcdh4sYeJC?q=Robert+McDonald