The profession of pawnbroker stretches back thousands of years and took place in the Greek and Roman Empires and in ancient China. The word pawn itself is derived from the Latin word pignus, meaning pledge. It even has its own patron saint, St Nicholas of Myra, and Pawnbrokers Day is held on that saint’s day every year. St. Nicholas was famous for his kindness and generosity towards the poor, and he became associated with pawn shops in the early 14th century, when what was then called montes pietatius, precursors to today’s pawn shops, were established by Franciscan friars. At that time, the goal was to be able to give low-interest loans to poor families so they could buy food, and the Franciscans alone started 150 montes pietatius. Because St. Nicholas managed to help so many impoverished families during his lifetime, Pope Julius II recognised him by making him the patron saint of the montes pietarius. Pawnbrokers day aims to recognise the role played by pawnbrokers in communities around the world in helping people manage their money, which they do by providing loans that are secured on a pledged item which is returned when the loan is repaid. Some of the most common items that have been pawned over the centuries have been musical instruments, and many pawnbrokers later donate the musical instruments nobody came back for to schools and other charity organisations who need them on Pawnbrokers Day, so children who love to play musical instruments but can’t quite afford them or war veterans in need of a hobby can continue perfecting their skills. They've always been a bit of a mystery to me, I don't think I've ever been in one.