Friday, December 3, 2010

Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas is who I am talking about. A patron saint.  Maybe called Santa Claus in some countries but I am not talking about Mr. HO HO HO.

We have all heard of the name Saint Nicholas. I love the old song "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas."  His feast day, St. Nicholas Day, is December 6, during the beautiful season of Advent.  In many places around the world he comes visiting children to see if they have been good. Usually he comes in the night and finds carrots and hay for his horse or donkey along with lists children have made for him to let him know what gifts they would like. He will leave small treats  in shoes or stockings that are left out, which is where hanging stockings by the fireplace came from.  Usually he may leave gifts, fruits or nuts.

All over the world he has a different appearance.
In places that St. Nicholas is a well-known saint, Christmas is not the primary day of gift giving but St. Nicholas Day instead.
He was born in the third century in the village of Patara. This is  on the southern coast of Turkey but at that time it was Greek.
His parents raised him to be a devout Christian. Sadly, they died  while Nicholas was a young boy. Nicholas wanted very much to obey Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," He would give all he had to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to being a servant of God.  He was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Saint Nicholas became known all around for being very  generous to the those in need.  He had  a very great love for children and a great  concern for sailors and ships.

Saint Nicholas suffered very much for his faith. He  was exiled and actually spent time in prison. After Nicholas was freed, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, a very important council in history. Nicholas died December 6,  343AD  in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church.  In his grave a very unique relic formed which is called manna. . This liquid substance, was said to have healing powers. Because of this there was devotion to Nicholas.  His feast day is December 6, the day of his death.

There are many legends built around Saint Nicholas. One such story is about a man who had three daughters. He was very poor and in those times a father needed a good dowry (something of value) to ensure his daughters got good husbands. This man didn't have a very good dowry, though, very mysteriously three seperate times there would be a bag of gold appear at their home. It it said the bags were thrown throught the window and ended up in the girls shoes, thus Saint Nicholas provided the needed dowry.

There are many other stories about Saint Nicholas, some are legends and some are real.  More than 2,000 churches have been named after him. There were many St. Nicholas chapels built in many seaports.

At our home, on the night before December 6. I like to surprise my family with little chocolate treats found in their shoes, that are set by the fireplace. It is just a little way we remember who the real Saint Nicholas is.

I like some of the old stories of Santa Claus. They can be fun but I really enjoy remembering every year what a christian Saint Nicholas was. It makes this time of year special. When we remember the important events around this season it just gives it such a magical, beautiful feel.

There is so much about Saint Nicholas, I can't tell it all. There are some very good websites that tell so much about him. I recommend checking out a couple of them if you haven't already.

Clipart courtesy of:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post. I like celebrating St. Nicholas,too.

Dear Lord help us to educate our family for your glory.

"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."--Gravissimum Educationis (one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council)

Helping and Loving Our Neighbor

Corporal works of Mercy
Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Admonish the sinner

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel the doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and the dead

Good Samaritain