Way back when I spent some time in Hungary during the Christmas season. I was able to pick up some nice souvenirs, one of them being this Hungarian St. Nicholas (or 'Mikulás' in Hungarian) figure. He stands about 15 1/2" (39.4cm) tall and has nicely worked embroidery on his heavy white robe which I believe is made of felt.. He holds a couple of presents and has a sack (which can be filled with candy), but also some branches. Why branches? Well, let's let Wikipedia describe the custom:
"There is no Mrs. Mikulas in Hungary. In the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia, Mikulas/Miklavž often comes with two assistants: a good Angel who gives out presents to good children and a “Krampusz”, a mean elf, in some version a Devil, who punishes bad children.
On 5 December, they come to the houses where small children live and give them some presents. 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 Krampusz. (However, as no one is either all good or all bad, most children get both sweets and a switch.)"
So, the branches most probably represent a switch. Along with the figure I have a couple of cards which were bought over there as well
Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket
I save everything - the flyer that came with the figure!