My children look forward to December 6 each year with as much enthusiasm as Christmas morning. After all, the real Saint Nicholas is the reason this Santa Claus guy is around.
The feast of St. Nicholas starts the evening before the 6th of December with the placing of shoes upon the hearth. Just as the tales tell us, these shoes will be filled up with gifts by the next morning’s dawn!
In our house, a small gift, usually some small toy, is given accompanied with a letter from St. Nicholas stating a bad habit or two that could use some attention, and, of course, a chocolate St. Nicholas and gold coin.
I have yet to find a ready made chocolate St. Nicholas, so instead, inspired from the St. Nicholas Center, I transform an ordinary foil covered chocolate Santa by adding a construction paper bishop’s mytr and pipe cleaner bishop’s staff.
The St. Nicholas letters are simple vintage prints printed onto card-stock. (This year I happened to find pictures with St. Nicholas clothed in a violet robe. I thought it was very fitting since the feast falls during Advent!)
My husband and I both compose the message on the back, always being sure to praise the children for their efforts, but also gently reminding them of little things they could improve upon.
This year I also included St. Nicholas holy cards. I thought it would be a nice addition to help remind us why we celebrate this great saint.
After the treats are discovered in the morning, many picture books are read throughout the day to help us understand just who this great saint really was. This year they were Santa, Are You For Real? and The Legend of Saint Nicholas.
And of course, there is always a coloring page laying around waiting to be filled in.
Since St. Nicholas is the patron of bakers, a baker’s dozen of gingerbread cookies come from the kitchen. While they baked, we read The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale.
(I think next year we will make some in the shape of St. Nicholas using some of these cookie cutters. Iced in red and white of course!)
And lastly, each year at Christmas our family chooses two Angels in need from our parish Angel tree. Since St. Nicholas is most remembered for his generosity, we purchase the gifts for the Angel tree children on his feast day. It is my hope that this act of charity for someone in our own community will help to solidify this virtue.
So, how does your family celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas?
I am always looking for new ideas! Please share!