Happy St. Nick

Did any small gifts arrive in your shoes last night?

Growing up St. Nick visited our house every year.  I loved running down the stairs in the morning to look what St. Nick left in my stocking.

My freshman year in college, the RAs worked with parents to coordinate a St. Nick’s morning for our dorm floor.  I remember being awoken by Christmas music at 5am.  I was grouchy – thinking…what is going on?

We all stumbled out of our rooms and there were gifts that parents sent for us and our RAs set up a little St. Nick party.  So fun!

While St. Nick may be known to some as the guy who leaves either coal or candy canes in shoes/stockings on December 6th, there’s more to him that that.

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in, what is today, Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need.

He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th.  St. Nicholas is also the patron saint of sailors and fishermen.  (stnicholascenter.org)

One legend explains how St. Nicholas came to be known as a gift-giver:

A poor man had three daughters and in order for the girls to marry, the father was going to need to provide a dowry for each.  This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.

Did you celebrate St. Nick’s today? Any traditions to share?

9 responses

  1. Wow, I had no idea today was St. Nick’s Day! Back in elementary school, we used to celebrate. All the students would go outside for recess, and when we got back, there would be candy in a spare pair of shoes we brought to the classroom.

  2. Oh no, I missed it! But you know what’s funny? My parents always did the “shoe thing” a week before Christmas. My brothers and I would all leave one of our shoes beneath the Christmas tree with our “list” in it, and Santa would leave us a little treat. It was so much fun. Growing up, I loved that tradition more than any other. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing the story of St. Nick!

  3. Growing up in Louisiana, we received our gifts from Santa Claus on Dec 25 and from his wife (to us she was La Cristine) on January 1. Now I live in the Netherlands where I’m learning about the traditions of Sinterklaas on Dec 5/6. He ‘arrived’ in the Netherlands from Spain in mid November and our city had a parade for him and Zwarte Piet, and last night he made his rounds visiting homes to leave gifts and candy in the shoes. Children (and some adults) who left their shoes out filled with carrots and hay for Sint’s horse, Amerigo, were left gifts and candy in exchange. Gifts included Dutch treats like taaitaai (chewy, spiced bread), pepernoten (nuggets of spiced bread) and kruidnoten (mini gingerbread-like cookies), and the best of all, Chocolate Letters! Part of the local tradition for adults is to exchange gifts anonymously and include with the gift a witty poem. Some of these poems can be fairly raunchy, others just funny. It’s been fun learning such new customs!

  4. That’s such a cute story!! You had the BEST RAs, so awesome they coordinated with your parents for the gifts. Years ago, I went to an exhibit that had traditions from St Nick and Santa Claus from around the world and it was so neat to learn about them.

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