Thursday, December 08, 2011

Saint Nicholas Day

Detail of St. Nicholas throwing a bag of gold, from Raphael's stocking.

    Years ago, a friend lent me a book called Celebrating the Christian Year. One of the ideas that stuck with me was to open stockings on St. Nicholas Day instead of Christmas morning. The tradition, after all, comes from a story of the saint throwing gold coins into the window of a poor family. Legend has it that the coins landed in the stockings of the three daughters, who then had a dowry and could marry. Four years ago I finally got it together to open stockings on St. Nicholas Day and we've enjoyed it very much. We've tried to keep the stocking stuffers simple and have some items that relate to stories about St Nicholas. Here are a few photos of our St. Nicholas Day celebration! 

Stories tell that Bishop Nicholas would hand out small, spiced breads to children, so we like to make gingerbread cookies shaped like him. It's been said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but I think that's true of all of us, and especially for children.  I like to try to incorporate special foods into our celebrations of saints when we can. We got to stay after church and decorate our cookies together with a couple other families. Fun was had by all! Our cookie cutter came from the St. Nicholas Center.

Our Saint Nicholas books only come out at this time of year. Getting them out is like greeting an old friend. We have a couple about the life of St. Nicholas and a few others fun stories based on him. One of our favorites is The Baker's Dozen, about a Dutch baker in the American colonies and how he learns to be generous.

St. Nicholas Day morning! Happy kids excited to find what's in their stockings! One of our "traditions" is to give the kids a new pair of pajamas each year. I put them under their pillow the evening before so they can wear them to bed. I have usually bought them on after Christmas clearance the year before, but this year I made the bottoms of soft flannel and bought knit shirts to coordinate.

It's funny how everyone seems to have their hands in Pearl's stocking except for her! Lots of helpful siblings!

We were blessed to get to attend the Liturgy on St. Nicholas day morning. I love the joy on Father Jerry's face in this photo! "Wondrous is God in His saints!" I'm grateful for such examples of selfless service as Saint Nicholas! 

The kids get in on filling the stockings too. I love that they want to share and give. They not only filled Erik's and mine, but tucked lots of little things in one another's stockings. I'm so glad they are learning the joy of giving! Celebrating Saint Nicholas early in the Christmas season is so appropriate as it helps us focus on giving.

One other thing we do in honor of St. Nicholas is to make muffins for the homeless in our town. My parents are involved in a lot of community outreach so it's easy for us to find a way to get our humble gift into the hands of those who need it. Our parish also hosts a giving project each December where we have the opportunity to give to those less fortunate in our community. This year we are sharing gifts with elderly residents in a memory care center, especially those who may not have anyone to remember them at this time of year.

Wishing you the joy of giving this season! And a happy (late) Saint Nicholas Day!


  1. What a beautiful stocking! It looks like your St. Nicholas day was filled with lovely traditions.

  2. Oh Rebeca, what beautiful traditions you are gifting your children with! They will cherish them forever. I was also inspired by your St. Herman post. Thanks for sharing!!


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