Ol' St. Nick

I posted about him back on his feast day that one of the things he is known for is decking the heretic Arius. Mississippi kindly linked the following in the comments, but I am just now getting around to posting them:

Why isn't the the patron saint of pugilists, again?

Actually, just today I was reading about saints and I started to wonder, where did this "patron saint of X" idea come from?

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