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Monday, December 1, 2008

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day!

Do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day? Wonder how or why someone celebrates St. Nicholas Day? Would you like to? It's not too late to put together a nice celebration - St. Nicholas Day is on Dec. 6th. (See some excellent book recommendations at the bottom of this post.)

We've begun celebrating St. Nicholas instead of mingling Santa and Jesus on Christmas day. This allows us the fun of "Santa" without it getting confused with the Birth of Christ. Not that you can't enjoy "Santa" on Christmas, but for us it was getting hard to keep our kids focused on Christ on Christmas. And the whole Santa kneeling at the manger - bleh, no, not for me.

Here is how we celebrated last year:

On St. Nicholas Eve, the children excitedly and carefully laid out their shoes by the fireplace for St. Nick to fill. And they left out a small plate of cookies and crackers, also. In the morning they found their shoes filled with a couple small gifts, sweet treats, and a chocolate santa (a tradition at our house). Even DH and I found our shoes had been laid out for us (by an elf, I presume) and filled with goodies and gifts! St. Nicholas left a few "family" gifts: MadLibs "Christmas", Angela and the Baby Jesus (a lovely, sweet book by Frank McCourt), and some much needed tempera paint.

Our favorite tradition is a true "feast" breakfast! We eat in the dining room with silver and Christmas china. The kids especially love the hot cocoa with a peppermint stick! Who wouldn't love that?

I do some special decorating, too. (We don't have any other Christmas decorations up at this point, so this is really special for the kids.) There are also some extra goodies from Mom and Dad waiting for the kids on the table. A small craft set, chocolate coins, and a fun pencil.

The kids enjoyed breakfast while I read from a little pamphlet about St. Nicholas. I highly recommend these little pamphlets entitled, "St. Nicholas, a Saint for Advent and Christmas" from Creative Communications for the Parish. They are written by Amy Wellbourn and are very inexpensive. I'd love to to buy loads of these and give them out early in Advent. Even if people opt to continue a Christmas eve visit from Santa, they could still celebrate his feast day!

At each place, there is also a nice little postcard with a vintage Santa image. These are our "secret santa" good deed cards. A good deed is done and the postcard left behind. The card recipient then does a good deed for someone else and leaves a card behind. We have 5 cards roaming around the house right now, which may be a bit much. I think 1 or 2 cards might suffice. You could use any card - homemade or otherwise. And, it wouldn't even have to be a Santa postcard - anything seasonal you like would do well!

The rest of the morning was spent enjoying the new books/toys and trying to do secret good deeds!

We ended the day watching a special from ETWN that was a better introduction to St. Nicholas, than most of the clay-mation "St. Nick" shows (even though I love these). They were a little over-dramatic, but the kids liked it and got the message - that Santa was a real man, a kind and brave bishop who loved Jesus.

Do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day? I'd love to hear about it! If you blog it, let me know and I'll link to your post.

Here are some book recommendations (see more at HERE):

(My favorite)

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