First, let’s get one thing out of the way: Saint Nicholas is NOT Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas is a historical figure, an actual person whose life is fairly well known. He was a Greek Bishop in the 4th century, well known for generosity and miracles. He was the model for the later Santa Claus, but he’s not the same person.
December 6 is the feast day of St. Nicholas, and as the patron saint of children his visit is eagerly awaited. But he doesn’t visit alone: he has a friend, Père Fouettard, who visits the houses of the bad children and leaves sticks so that their parents can beat them! On the eve of the holiday, French children leave their shoes out in the hopes that they will be filled with candies and gifts in the morning.
In Lorraine, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of the region. Parades are held, and here’s some video from one for you to enjoy: