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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Preparing for Saint Nicholas Day!

This is an updated post from last year. . .

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.)

In many countries, St. Nicholas Day is the day on which children get their gifts, while Christmas is reserved for church services and family get-togethers. 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've celebrated in years past:
On St. Nicholas Eve, the children excitedly and carefully lay out their shoes by the fireplace for St. Nick to fill. And they leave out a small plate of cookies and crackers, also. I've heard that in some countries they leave St Nick a nice beer (I think Belgium is where this is done) - that might be an addition to this year's celebration!

In the morning they found their shoes filled with a couple small gifts, sweet treats, and a chocolate santa (a tradition at our house - this year we are going to make these into Bishops with the directions from the Saint Nicholas Center). Even DH and I found our shoes had been laid out for us (by an elf, I presume) and filled with goodies and gifts!

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

We have a small collection of Santa items that I put out as a display. This is the first of the real Christmas decorating we do. There are also some extra goodies from Mom and Dad waiting for the kids on the table, usually chocolate coins and fun Christmas pencils.

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. 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! We continue these for a day or so.

Later we snuggle up on the couch and read about Saint Nicholas. I especially love Ann Tompert's Saint Nicholas book (see below). This year I've added a new book: Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki (found in on the shelf at Barnes and Noble). This would be especially appropriate for a family that wants to continue celebrating Santa Claus on Christmas. It is a sweetly illustrated book. Santa shares his favorite story - of the First Christmas - with the woodland animals who respond by saying, "How silly we have been,' said the fox, 'to think that Christmas was only about presents." Then all the animals go back to Santa's house to help him finish his Christmas work.

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)


Amy said...

Hi Kerry! I love the idea of your breakfast feast. Last year we did Trader Joe's yummy chocolate croissants that rise overnight!

Thanks also for more book recommendations. Would you say any of them focus on more of the "facts" than the "legends," though I know it's a difficult thing to distinguish?

My post on Saint Nicholas is at

Thanks!! Amy

MomCO3 said...

Thanks for this! I've updated my last year's post on St Nicholas Day-- it's here:
I also linked to yours. Thanks!

Paula Velez said...

Thanks for this post and the book suggestions! We have the one by Julie Steigmeyer and I love how it tells the true story while focusing on St. Nicholas' love for Jesus and others. We are looking forward to our first St. Nicholas day celebration this year and planning to share it with some friends - I even purchased several bags of Trader Joe's gold coins to go into shoes :)

Juanita said...

"And the whole Santa kneeling at the manger - bleh, no, not for me."

My thoughts exactly!

I would like to find some of these books you recommend.

I posted about our traditions on my blog.

Kerry said...

Juanita, you are too modest! I'm posting your link for you. . .

(And anyone reading - click on over and don't miss her WONDERFUL Advent playlist)