Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy Saint Nicholas Day

Today we remember the generosity of St. Nicholas. Unfortunately the truth about this man has been so drastically altered that most people have no idea that 1) he was a real person and 2) he is not at all like the man sitting in the middle of the mall waiting for a toddler to pee on him.

St. Nicholas was a bishop in what is now Turkey - Myra, during the 4th century. He was sent to prison under the Roman emperor Diocletian. In A.D. 325 he attended the Council of Nicaea (First ecumenical council; called to preserve unity of the church which was threatened by competing definitions of Jesus). He had wealth and chose to share that wealth in many ways - employing bakers and toy makers in his town to create food (gingerbread) and gifts for the less fortunate. He also gave of his money. The story goes that a friend with three marriageable-age daughters lost his business. With no money there was no dowry for his girls. Wanting to bring happiness to his friend and his family, St. Nicholas secretly tossed bags of coins into the window of the girl's bedroom. This is where the tradition of stockings and chocolate coins come from.

St. Nicholas died December 6, A.D. 343.

As Protestants we don't celebrate many of the saint's days (only St. Nicholas, St. Valentine and St. Patrick). We recognize St. Nicholas because, in the midst of the season's activities, looking at St. Nicholas' life reminds us of importance. The persecution he faced, never denying Christ's Lordship in his life, his generosity - giving not only of substance but of faith, are examples to us today.

How do we celebrate this day? Since it's during the week and the rest of our community is not stopping to celebrate, we wait until the evening. We will have a special, favorite meal of Turkish food (falafels, homemade pita bread, hummus, tabouleh).
At dinner we talk about St. Nicholas and how we can continue generosity in our lives. The kids look in their stockings for special chocolates (usually coins but I couldn't find any this year!) and around the house for special presents (Ian - Calvin and Hobbes books, Aidan xbox 360 game, Emma - pajamas, Liam - Curious George toy and Spiderman slippers). We'll then be watching Amazing Grace, the movie.


Christina Dawn said...

Do you celebrate St. Lucia day as well?

I Was Just Thinking.... said...

There's no Swedish blood on either sides of our family, so, no, we don't celebrate St. Lucia Day. Although for about 3 years I attended a Covenant church and we would have a special dinner on St. Lucia day.

Viola said...

Thank you for writing about this. What a great family tradition. I didn't know the true story of St Nicholas until my children were grown. But I now have a Catholic cartoon movie, "Nicholas: the Boy who Became Santa," which my grandchildren enjoy watching.

Sunny Sky said...

Well, for next year an idea for finding the coins, I saw coins at a Dollar Tree store. You may try dollar stores like that. Or another idea where I have seen them is Party stores like "the Party Store" they have them and will be with the Pirate theme stuff. :)