The origin of the St. Nicholas tradition goes back to Bishop Nicholas of Myra in Lycia (Turkey). Little solid historical information is known about Nicholas except that he was Bishop of Myra and died around A.D. 350.
A Prince, Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker of the Kiev Near Caves (12th century) left his family to become a monk. He worked in the monastery's kitchen, served as gatekeeper, and grew a garden around his cell; also, he funded two churches in the area. Saint Nicholas was the first Russian prince to accept monasticism; his brothers ridiculed him, and his doctor told him fasting had weakened him. Saying this the doctor fell ill and was only cured by the saint's prayers. (Oct 14)