This will be our first “official” year with a St. Nicholas Day. As of yet, my children know nothing about it, but give it until Friday, and I’m sure they’ll get the idea pretty quick. I’d always heard about Saint Nicholas, but it was always in a vague “he’s the Real Santa Claus” sort of way. I mean, quite literally, that’s the sentence I remember, but not much on who he was, or why he was just the “Real” Santa Clause.
One of my favorite things so far, since joining the Catholic Church has been the celebrations of the lives of the saints. It’s been wonderful discovering little bits of inspiration here and there. I look forward to continuing learning about these great men and women who came before us, even if it’s just one little story at a time.
On to St. Nicholas then. A little bit about him: He was born in the third century. Was ordained by his uncle, the archbishop of Myra. When his uncle died, he became the new archbishop. He died in 343. There are many legends and stories about him, including one where after hearing that a man had lost his fortune and was unable to marry off his daughters for lack of dowry, St Nicholas threw bags of gold coins into the window to provide it for them. Quite possibly where a tradition of gift giving came from? Overall, though, he was extremely charitable towards those in need. He is the patron of children, sailors, bakers, pawnbrokers and unmarried girls to list a few.
I tried to do a little bit last year on his feast day, but, we were just making the arrangements for joining the Church and I was trying to jump into too many things at the same time. I rented a few picture books from the library, but they pretty much went way over the kids’ heads. I enjoyed them 🙂 (I’m sorry, I don’t remember what they were now, hopefully I reordered them in this year’s round of books…)
So for this year we’ll be doing just a little bit more than we did last year. We’ll be reading about him in one or both of our Saint books (Children’s editions). I found a couple of coloring pages: Can be found here (Actually, there is a lot of info on this site about St. Nicholas), which I thought I’d try with them. And we’ll be starting a little tradition of placing the kids’ shoes near our fireplace on the evening of the 5th and putting a small candy cane (to represent St Nicholas’ bishops’ crozier) and a book. I don’t want to make this a big gift giving event as our main gift exchange happens on the 25th, but I do like the idea of a small little something. As of right now the only St Nicholas story we own is The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard, so we’ll be reading that as well. We may try to do a charitable act for someone. Probably won’t be secret, as my children do not comprehend the meaning of that word, no matter how many times we tell them they can’t tell Mimi what her Christmas Present will be… But at least if we can get a “discussion” of charitable acts going, that’ll be a step in the right direction.
We call upon Your mercy, O Lord. Through the intercession of St. Nicholas, keep us safe amid all dangers so that we may go forward without hindrance on the road of salvation.