Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Saint Nicholas Day!

Growing up, I attended a Catholic elementary school. Not only did we celebrate Advent, but we also celebrated Saint Nicholas Day! In the morning when we arrived at school, we would leave one of our standard uniform shoes outside the classroom door. At some point during the morning, "Saint Nicholas" would come and leave a treat in each child's shoe. It was usually a little candy cane-- but it was quite a fun tradition as a child.

When I attended college my roommate's mother had a tradition that interested me. She wanted the focus of Christmas to be celebrating the birth of Jesus. Therefore, "Santa" came on St. Nicholas Day and filled each child's Christmas stocking. Presents were still exchanged between family members on Christmas Day, but they  would also make a birthday cake for Jesus and have a present for Him. It struck me as a good way to still have some Santa-style fun, but keep the focus of Christmas on Christ, where it belongs.

Now that I have my own children, I'm excited to begin our own Saint Nicholas Day traditions! This year, our celebration is going to be quite simple, but I hope to add some traditions as the children get older.

Who was Saint Nicholas?

Saint Nicholas is the real man behind the legends of Santa Claus.He lived from about 280-343 AD. He was from the town of Myrna, which is in present day Turkey. He dedicated his life to serving God and became the Bishop of Myrna while still a young man. He was well known for his acts of generosity and many stories are told about his kind deeds. You can read a full biography here. Nicholas is an excellent hero of the faith to introduce children to and a way to talk about being merciful to those in need.

Celebrating Saint Nicholas

We have had a simple celebration this year. I've ordered stockings for the kids, but they haven't arrived yet. so this year, Jonathan came downstairs to find a little gift at the breakfast table. He got a little train to go with his new train table that some friends gave us this weekend. Gracie had a new little rattle.

This afternoon, we are making some traditional German cookies and, if I have time, I may try to make a Turkish chicken dish for dinner.

So it's a very simple celebration this year for us-- but I look forward to adding new traditions as the children get older! Do you celebrate Saint Nicholas day?

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