Born somewhere between AD 260 and 280 (yup, he's a real guy), St. Nicholas is largely legendary, meaning what started in fact has grown and been elaborated over time. This site has an abundance of information about St. Nick, from the legends surrounding his life to the historical evidence supporting the legends. I was previously unaware of this legend, and am quite impressed by it:
Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens. A wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their remains in a large pickling tub. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at this very inn. In the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper. As Nicholas prayed earnestly to God the three boys were restored to life and wholeness. In France the story is told of three small children, wandering in their play until lost, lured, and captured by an evil butcher. St. Nicholas appears and appeals to God to return them to life and to their families. And so St. Nicholas is the patron and protector of children.St. Nicholas is patron to a lengthy list of persons and causes, including unmarried women. I made a new friend!