Today is the feast of St. Nicholas of Myra, known as St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. Most everyone has heard that the tradition of Santa Claus evolved from St. Nicholas, and in many European nations, children receive gifts on St. Nicholas' Day rather than Christmas.
There is little known historically about the life of St. Nicholas. Over the years, a strong devotion to him has developed in both the Eastern and Western Churches. In fact, nearly every Orthodox church has a shrine or prominent icon of the saint.
He is also known as St. Nicholas of Bari, a city on the heel of the Italian "boot." In 1037, the city of Myra, where he had served as bishop and his relics were enshrined, was conquered by the Saracen Muslims. A raiding party of 72 Catholic sailors, including 3 priests, raided Myra in 1087 and made off with the saint's bones. They took them to Bari, and St. Nicholas' fame increased throughout Italy and Europe.
The St. Nicholas Center is a beautiful online resource dedicated to promoting knowledge of the saint and celebration of his feast day.
On a side note, the newest St. Nicholas in the Orthodox Church is Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, who was executed with his family by the Communists during the Bolshevik Revolution. He was well-known for his devotion and piety, and abdicated the throne in the hope that it would spare Russia further violence. He, his wife Alexandria, and their five children were canonized as holy martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000.