Mikulás (or Szent Miklós) is the Hungarian version of Saint Nicholas, and a similar figure to Santa Claus. This tradition is also well known in Romania (Moș Nicolae), Slovenia (Miklavž),the Czech Republic, Slovakia (both Mikuláš), and Poland (Mikołaj).
Although the role of gift-giver on Christmas Day itself is assigned to the Christ Child, on Saint Nicholas' feast day of 6 December Hungarian children traditionally place a boot on their windowsill waiting for Mikulás to come by and fill it with treats. While "good" children receive various fruits, candies and toys, "bad" children can expect nothing more than a wooden spoon, coal or a willow switch ("virgács") left by Mikulás' somewhat sinister elf companion, Krampusz. (However, as no one is either all good or all bad, most children get both sweets and a switch.)
In the Czech Republic,Slovenia and Slovakia, Mikuláš/Miklavž is often accompanied by the Angel and the Devil. On 5 December, they come to the houses where small children live and give them some presents. To earn some extra money, students often act as Mikuláš, the Angel, and the Devil.
Treats are traditionally sweets, chocolate, candy and different nuts. In modern times, chocolate Santa figures are most common. To get the presents, the boots must be polished, because Santa does not fill boots that are not shiny enough.
Bad kids may also get onions, raw potatoes or a lump of coal in their boots next to their presents as a warning that next year they might get only these.
Although presents are usually given to children by parents, it is not uncommon between adults to place small surprises (such as presents or a virgács) into the boots of others.
The virgács is often painted gold and is sold on the streets. The material used to make the virgács can be simple twigs or branches from a bush, or the same material used to make brooms.