Some 26% of the Dutch population gives presents on both days.
In Belgium, Sinterklaas day presents are offered exclusively to children, whereas on Christmas Day, all ages may receive presents.
Saint Nicholas was later claimed as a patron saint of many diverse groups, from archers, sailors, and children to pawnbrokers.
During the Middle Ages, often on the evening before his name day of 6 December, children were bestowed gifts in his honour.
Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes.
He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity.
For example, in Washington Irving's History of New York (1809), Sinterklaas was Americanized into "Santa Claus" (a name first used in the American press in 1773) but lost his bishop's apparel, and was at first pictured as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat. We are all sad; no loud, jovial laugh from our boys is heard.
But Nicholas remained popular as gifts bearer for the people.Pre-modern representations of the gift-giver from Church history and folklore, notably St Nicholas (known in Dutch as Sinterklaas), merged with the English character Father Christmas to create the character known to Americans and the rest of the English-speaking world as "Santa Claus" (a phonetic derivation of "Sinterklaas").In the English and later British colonies of North America, and later in the United States, British and Dutch versions of the gift-giver merged further.Santa Claus is known as de Kerstman in Dutch ("the Christmas man") and Père Noël ("Father Christmas") in French.But for children in the Netherlands Sinterklaas remains the predominant gift-giver in December; 36% of the Dutch only give presents on Sinterklaas day, whereas Christmas is used by another 21% to give presents.