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Tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day, what in my family growing up was the true beginning of the Christmas season. Every year on the night of December 5th we’d put out our shoes for St. Nicholas, and on the morning of December 6th we’d wake up to shoes full of chocolates, marzipan, and and other small holiday treats.

In fond remembrance of the holiday, I bring you Six to Eight Black Men, by David Sedaris, is perhaps my all-time-favorite commentary on the holiday; you can also listen to Sedaris read this piece in an episode of This American Life as part of one of my all-time favorite episodes, “Them.” (Bonus: “Them” also features Jon Ronson of men-who-stare-at-goats fame reading an excerpt from his book Them: Adventures With Extremists). For anyone who has tried to fathom the holiday celebrations of an unfamiliar culture: this essay is for you.

*dutch for “happy st. nicholas eve”
**Image credit: Susan Seals @ The St. Nicholas Center.