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Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Feast of Saint Nicholas!

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, you could really celebrate anytime this week! 

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) - doesn't that sound fun?

In the morning they found their shoes filled with a couple small gifts, sweet treats, and a chocolate santa (you can 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? This year we have one child who is attending school, so we will celebrate with a nice dinner at the dining room table.  If I can find the box with the Christmas china, I might even pull that out.  For dessert, we'll enjoy hot cocoa with a peppermint stick.

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.  I'm thinking of hanging these on a garland at the mantel - wouldn't that make a sweet decoration?

Later we snuggle up on the couch and read about Saint Nicholas. I especially love Ann Tompert's Saint Nicholas book. 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.


Amy said...

Hi Kerry--A return from the silence on St. Nick's day:

I'm always so encouraged by your blog!

amy said...

A joyous feast day to you!

I love your ideas! Thank you for sharing them... our traditions are still being formed. Thus far, we've had a feast of a breakfast (because, thankfully, it's a snow day and no school!! yea! ) and read stories from "The Real St. Nicholas" by Louise Carus ... a wonderful day, so far.

Amy said...

I love, love, love your blog. Your ideas and traditions have really helped me shape more meaningful advent traditions for my own family. I'm so glad you are posting again.

Kerry said...

All you sweet Amys! Thank you all for your kind encouragement. There have been many times in the past year I've thought about closing this blog down. So, your encouragement is really appreciated.

Amy (Splendor) - thanks for your leaving a link to your post.