There's nothing whatsoever to the other legend about Saint Nicholas - that he comes down the chimney every December 25 with a sackful of stuff he's nicked from the pawnshop. It is however true that the nineteenth-century colloquial expression "Old Nick" - meaning the Devil - is directly connected with Saint Nicholas. There are other clues. Note the red suit in the case of each; note the hairiness, and the association with burning and soot. We get the slang term "to nick," meaning "to steal," from... But I digress, pausing simply to add that Saint Nicholas, as well as being the patron saint of young children, those sticky-fingered elfin creatures with scant sense of other people's property rights, is also the patron saint of thieves. Saint Nicholas is always found in the vicinity of a big heap of loot, and when asked where he got it he'll tell an implausible yarn involving some non-human laborers hammering away in a place he euphemistically calls his "workshop."

Old Nick
Csaba Osvath
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By Margaret Atwood
Payback; Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth
(page 55-56)

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