This is our first year incorporating the celebration of St. Nicholas’ feast day into our family! I was briefly raised with the whole Santa Claus idea until my mom put a halt to it when I was around 8 years old. As I’ve grown in my Catholic faith and am learning how to raise a family in that faith, I’ve decided that I don’t want to even go near Santa Claus, but celebrate his Catholic origins instead.
St. Nicholas’ feast is widely celebrated in Europe where children will put shoes near the door, by the fireplace or even outside to receive a small gift “from” this saint (usually gold coins, fruit and/or some other small token). The tradition comes from the generous spirit of St. Nicholas who was very wealthy and gave to those in need. The coin/shoe tradition comes from St. Nicholas helping three poor sisters who could not afford a dowry to marry, so they were at risk of being sold into slavery/prostitution. Upon hearing this, Nicholas anonymously tossed some coins down their chimney and the tradition says the coin purses landed in some socks that were drying by the fireplace.
Why We Are Celebrating This Feast
1. I really want to start living the liturgical life of the Catholic Church and make our faith something we LIVE and not something that just happens on Sundays. One way I’m working on that is by trying to implement suggestions from Hallie’s Book “FEAST! Real Food, Reflections and Simple Living for the Christian Year”. What a great time to start this than at the beginning of the Liturgical year!
2. Santa Claus is a twist on the true story of St. Nicholas, but I find that the celebration of the two are quite different. Growing up I always wondered why Santa preferred the rich children to the poor children who couldn’t even afford food or clothing. My little sister upon finding out that Santa wasn’t real was confused by the unintentional lie and asked, “Is Jesus not real too?” I want my children to grow up knowing truths and celebrating these truths!
3. As the children get older and ask about the gifts they received, I will tell them that St. Nicholas was a follower of Christ and gave generously because he loved our Lord. We’re giving gifts on this feast to mimic this generosity.
How We Are Celebrating This Feast
It’s our first year celebrating and I wanted to go ALL OUT. I read blogs, e-books, pinned things on Pinterest and had big plans. Today is the day before the feast and I’m letting go of some of these big plans in order to simplify and remember why we are celebrating. So this year, we won’t have fancy St. Nicholas styled cookies, we won’t have any fancy decorations and we don’t even have a book. But that’s ok. We have many, many years to build on this tradition. Instead:
1. The kids will place their shoes/boots by our fireplace tonight.
2. Tomorrow morning Ryan’s shoe will be filled (I can’t resist treating him too). I can’t decide when to give the kids their shoes as I’m sure Ryan would like to be there, but at some point they will get their shoes.
3. We have a simple St. Nicholas movie they can watch and colouring sheets for Chloe.
4. During the morning we will prepare for our charitable act. We decided to be an example like St. Nicholas and provide some things for someone less fortunate than ourselves. This year it is a single mother we know who is in great need. So tomorrow morning, I will get the kids to help put some basic household and food items into a basket and we will deliver it.
5. Supper will be a feast! Chicken with mashed potatoes and maple glazed carrots. We will have dessert, but I haven’t decided what that will be yet. We will end the day with a special prayer to St. Nicholas, thanking him for his example in the faith and his generosity.