St. Nicholas is, in fact, the greatest saint in the history of Christianity. Forget Peter, Paul, or Mary; St. Nicholas has them all beat. No other saint enjoys his unique relationship to all three branches of Christianity — Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant — nor his persistent presence in secular culture.
Archbishop Nicholas of Myra and wonder-worker of the late third and early fourth century, has been and continues to be venerated ecumenically by all the various households of the Christian faith. Although rites and customs vary, some begin their remembrance of St. Nicholas as early as Dec. 6 (his feast day on the liturgical calendar) and continue to celebrate him all through the Twelve Days of Christmas until Jan. 5.
The mode or means of veneration can vary as well. The Orthodox and Catholic churches through hymns and litanies ask him to pray for us and recount the miracles attributed to his intercessions or direct intervention. Outside of church in Orthodox and Catholic cultures, children can usually expect gifts to be given in the name of St. Nicholas. It is in this tradition of giving that St. Nicholas persists in Protestant cultures. And it is unmistakably St. Nicholas even in the most dogmatically Protestant of countries (e.g. “Sinter Claas” in 17th century Holland).