Celebrate Saint Nicholas’ Day – December 6th

On December 5, 2012 by Eddie

Nikola from 1294

The Church calendar is full of celebrations; sometimes entire seasons like Advent, and sometimes specific “feast days,” days to remember some heroes of the Christian faith. December 6th is the feast day of Saint Nicholas, someone we’re familiar with whether we know it or not.

Saint Nicholas is the real, original Santa Claus. The Dutch called him Sinterklass, and over time our lovable Santa Claus character developed from his original example. What’s pretty astounding to me, however, is to realize that Saint Nicholas was a very real person, and one whose example is worth celebrating and remembering today.

Nicholas, also known as Nikolaos of Myra, was born in AD 270, and died on December 6th of AD 343. Not much is known about the specifics of his life, but he was born to wealthy parents who died when Nicholas was a young child. As he grew, he gained a reputation as a secret-gift-giver, placing coins in the shoes of needy children who left them outside for him. The most famous tale of Saint Nicholas is of a poor family, whose three young daughters were about to be sold into slavery. In the night, Nicholas through three purses of money in their home in order to rescue their children.

Many people around the globe celebrate the life of Saint Nicholas in various forms and traditions. One of the most popular is to have children leave their shoes or stockings outside their door. In the morning, the children awake to chocolate coins or other candy treats stuffed inside their shoes, a reminder of the self-less generosity of Saint Nicholas. Today, most Americans do not celebrate December 6th as a special day, but instead have morphed the tradition into the Christmas holiday (hence stocking stuffers…get it?).

The idea of celebrating Saint Nicholas’ day was brought to my attention by Pete Fujimoto, one of our incredible audio volunteers at North Point. His family celebrates this day each year by placing coins in shoes, as well as even giving Christmas gifts on this day instead of December 25th! In the end, by celebrating this day on December 6th, it serves as a reminder that December 25th is about the coming of Jesus, not just the coming of Santa Claus.

If you’re interested in celebrating this day with your family, consider buying a few chocolate coins (we found some in the dollar bin at Target) and have your kids leave shoes or socks outside their bedroom door. Candy, or a small treat, can be a great way to teach kids about this very real hero of the faith, and at the same time remind all of us that Jesus is who we’re celebrating in the Christmas season.

For more info, check out the Wikipedia article on Saint Nicholas, or listen to the first few minutes of Pete’s video for December 6th.

PS, just found a Veggie Tales move for kids about Saint Nicholas. Haven’t watched it yet, but could be worth checking out as well. If you’re a Netflix subscriber, search for Saint Nicholas. If not, you can find it here.

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