Surprise your kids, spouse and loved ones with a gift that they’ll find in their shoes when they wake up- Tomorrow is St. Nicholas’ Day
No, I’m not talking about Christmas, though a lot of people seem to think the two are one in the same. Santa Claus, as you may know, is an adaption from the true story of a real man named Nicholas who was made a Saint because of his incredible story. I encourage you to learn more about the holiday and then take part in it but if you want to jump to the fun stuff, keep scrolling.
Who Was St. Nicholas?
The St. Nicholas Center website does a great job of summing this one up without leaving out too much detail. Here is their telling of St. Nicholas:
“The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
“One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. 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. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.”
There are so many other tales that show the character of St. Nicholas, the Gift Giver and Protector of Children. I highly recommend visiting the St. Nicholas Center website. They also have tons of ideas on how to celebrate St. Nick’s Day, craft and gift ideas, printables, as well as more articles on who St. Nicholas was and how we came to our modern adaption known as Santa Clause.
Some coloring page examples
By the way, I’m not Catholic, if you were wondering. Half of my family is but it was actually my Protestant mother that started the tradition of celebrating St. Nick’s Day and the upcoming St. Lucia’s Day in our family. They are fond memories from my childhood and you don’t have to be Catholic or believe in praying to saints to celebrate.
And now for that fun stuff.
St. Nicholas’ Day is December 6th which means the night of December 5th is when you leave the gifts for your loved ones. Classic St. Nick’s gifts include candy canes, chocolate coins, clementines, as well as other small gifts. You can see where the oranges and chocolate gold coins come in from the story above; the candy cane is used to represent St. Nicholas’ crozier.
That thing in St. Nick’s hand is a crozier.
Growing up, my mom didn’t really stick with the traditional gifts. We usually got a small gift like a stuffed animal or head phones and our favorite candies. It was like a mini-Christmas we got to look forward to. As much as I loved that tradition, I’m planning to make my own traditions once Muggy (weird nickname for in-womb baby, remember) is old enough. I want to get the meaning of the holiday across and make that the focus. I would probably stick with the traditional gifts and explain why, as well as include something more personal and special.
It’s just me and Luke this year but that hasn’t stopped me. I’m planning on sneaking a few hidden gifts into his work boots in the wee morning hours since I’ll be up anyway to, well, wee (hashtag pregnancy problems).
I found a pattern on the St. Nick Center site that shows you how to turn a chocolate Santa into St. Nicholas. The patterns can be found here and you can choose what size based on your chocolate Santa.
For my St. Nick, I used the Palmer brand Double Krisp Kringle. He’s not quite as stoic as you might like but he was somehow the only chocolate Santa my local Walmart had. I also had to settle for fuzzy yellow chenille sticks rather than the cool gold ones from the pattern. Get the gold ones if you can!
I used red card stock for his miter (Bishop’s hat) and I also colored out the words “Krisp Kringle” that were originally printed on the gift he’s holding with a black Sharpie. I like the fact that he’s holding a gift as it fits well the theme.
I measured how long I wanted my pipe cleaner, made the swirl and glued it on.
Then it was only the miter left to make. I used red card stock since I didn’t have any cool foil paper. Then I painted a little cross on the miter with Mod Podge and sprinkled glitter over.
I think he turned out nicely.
Remember, a big part of St. Nicholas’ Day is doing an anonymous act of kindness for someone. Here are some suggestions:
* Leave a gift card to a grocery store in the mailbox of someone who needs it
* Make a basket of baked goods and food and leave it on their doorstep
* Pay for the person’s order in line behind you at the drive-thru
* Tape quarters to a vending machine
* Shovel snow from someone’s drive. If you’re caught, explain why.
* Donate goods to a food bank or Goodwill
* Donate to Toys For Tots
* If you can, leave a note or print off some info from the website explaining St. Nick’s Day. Hopefully next year, the person you helped will join the tradition.
Here are some more fun ways to celebrate St. Nick’s Day for kids:
1. St. Nick puzzle 2. How to draw St. Nick 3. St. Nick cut out
Lots more HERE
P.S. See those cookies in the boots in the top picture? I have the recipe and they’re delicious. Check back tomorrow. Til then, enjoy your St. Nicholas’ Day!