St Nicholas Day is Coming!

(This is a reprise post, prompted by a few folks asking how we celebrate St Nicholas Day– and what we do about Santa.  We don’t "do" anything with Santa… but we sure do celebrate this example of St Nicholas!)

I cherish Advent as a church season for many reasons.  I love that it is a season of waiting, of expectation, and that the prize (as it were) is Christ, Incarnate.  We don’t go out to shop much, but my kids still manage to pick up on the "__ days til Christmas!" fever around us, so I enjoy Advent as a time to focus on giving to others, especially to the poor.

Saint Nicolas Day falls on December 6, and he is a great figure of charity in church history.  We like to read about him for several days leading up to the holiday; there are good retellings of his story on the internet, as well as a few beautiful picture books.  The Real Santa Claus: Legends of Saint Nicholas by Mariana Meyer (the second on the left) features many beautiful classical paintings of the saint.

  

(A note of caution: the Demi book is a little gruesome, as it highlights the children cut up and put in the stew.)  Focusing on Saint Nicholas as a person has diffused the Santa Claus thing at our house– he’s an historical figure, rather than a mythical Arctic guy whose purpose in life is to bring me presents.

We then give the children many ways that they can give to others.  This has been harder than I thought it would be: many charity organizations are not set up for younger children to participate.  But here are some ways we have found to share what God has given us with those less fortunate:

  • packing backpacks full of non-perishable food and things like band-aids and wool hats, to give to the homeless we see around the city
  • participating in Operation Christmas Child , through Samaritan’s Purse
  • allowing our children to choose a gift to give to a needy family or child overseas, from  Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog, World Relief’s Catalog of Hope, World Vision’s Gift Catalog, or The Heifer Project.  (The book Beatrice’s Goat tells the story of a family in Africa who were transformed by the gift of a goat.)
  • collecting coats and blankets from our neighbors for a coat drive
  • hosting an Advent party and asking everyone to bring a food item for the local food pantry.

Four years ago, we also hosted an Advent party for our friends and neighbors to let them know about World Vision and World Relief’s holiday catalogs.  We had a great time with food and fun, and they also went home with a catalog to encourage their own giving.  The kids had a great time making a poster of what they had chosen to give from the catalog– ducks, or goats, or mosquito nets to prevent malaria.

Be sure to check out Kerry’s post and Amy’s post on St Nicholas!

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6 thoughts on “St Nicholas Day is Coming!

  1. Annie, I love how you help the kids focus on modeling St. Nicholas rather than just getting thigns for themselves. I hope we'll be able to use this weekend to make our homemade gifts and baked goods for our neighbors, but I like your ideas too, hubby and I will have to talk tonight! Thanks for sharing.
    Your advent party idea is so cool too.

  2. Annie, I love how you help the kids focus on modeling St. Nicholas rather than just getting thigns for themselves. I hope we'll be able to use this weekend to make our homemade gifts and baked goods for our neighbors, but I like your ideas too, hubby and I will have to talk tonight! Thanks for sharing. I'm going to add the books to our wishlist.
    Your advent party idea is so cool too.
    Amy

  3. Your timing on this is so perfect! This year we were planning on celebrating St. Nicholas Day for the first time, and I love your ideas! Thanks for all the resources too!

  4. We celebrate St. Nicholas too.
    I have really been enjoying your blog, and I have added you to my friends list.

    Advent Blessings~
    Juanita

  5. Every year, right at the beginning of December, I think: AACK! I wanted to do some kind of a study or readings or something about St. Nicholas this year. But I always seem to be too late. I did get online last week and search for library books I could check out (of course, most were already checked out…). I SO appreciate your post and book recommendations and hearing what you do, Annie.

    And I can't wait to read Beatrice's Goat. Thanks for the heads-up on that book!

    ~Stacy

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