My family and I celebrate Saint Nicholas every year on December 6th, Saint Nicholas’ saint day. Did you know that Saint Nicholas is Santa Claus’ real name? You can learn more about Saint Nicholas here:
In our house, it is a day to celebrate Saint Nicholas, give as he gave, and serve as he served. Here are some ingredients for your own Saint Nicholas Day celebration:
To remind us of the story of Saint Nicholas, we usually watch one or both of these movies on Saint Nicholas Day:
Veggie Tales: Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving: https://www.amazon.com/VeggieTales-Nicholas-Story-Joyful-Giving/dp/B004EDS93E
Buck Denver asks: Why Do They Call it Christmas? https://www.amazon.com/Buck-Denver-Asks-Call-Christmas/dp/B00FM5P2MY
Saint Nicholas was known for giving help to the poor and needy in the form of gold coins and gold balls. On Saint Nicholas Day, we eat chocolate coins and clementines to remind us of his generosity.
Saint Nicholas was also a bishop who wore a red robe and carried a crozier, or shepherd’s crook, as a sign of his status. We eat candy canes on Saint Nicholas Day to remind ourselves that he was a bishop who cared for God’s flock on earth.
If you want to add some fun, make sure there is something orange or chocolate or peppermint at each meal on Saint Nicholas Day. Our special favorite is orange pancakes with mini chocolate chips and peppermint cocoa.
Because we like to focus on Jesus on Christmas, Saint Nicholas Day is the major gift-giving holiday in our household. Saint Nicholas brings a special ornament to each child, and we give gifts to one another. As they get older, I think it will be fun to try to give the gifts anonymously, so you know what you gave, but you don’t know exactly who the gifts you receive are from. Saint Nicholas gave because Christ gave first. We give because Christ gave first, with Saint Nicholas as our example.
Saint Nicholas was known for helping the poor and those in need. Be creative as you figure out an age-appropriate way for your family to serve together. We have done several things over the years, including choosing a person from our local angel tree and shopping for them, giving to Toys for Tots, making cookies and delivering them to a local assisted living center, and making layette kits for Lutheran World Relief. This year, we made hand-made Christmas ornaments and delivered them to some older folks in our area. We also told them the story of Saint Nicholas and did some Christmas caroling.
As our children grow older, we would like to emphasize the day of service aspect even more. When they are teenagers, we plan to go to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen and spend the day serving. Tailor your experience to the age and developmental abilities of your family.
This year, we decorated our Christmas tree on Saint Nicholas Day morning. The night before, my husband and I put up the tree and put lights on it. It was ready to be decorated when the girls woke up on Saint Nicholas Day. Each of our girls has a box with her own special ornaments given to her each year on Saint Nicholas Day. After our girls opened their new ornaments, I brought out their boxes, and each girl had a wonderful time looking through their ornaments, telling the stories they remembered about each ornament, and hanging them on the tree. It also kept them busy while my husband made pancakes! I could see this becoming a yearly tradition.
Our parents love to have an annual Saint Nicholas picture with our kids, so another tradition that we have upheld has been Santa pics on Saint Nicholas Day. This year, we stayed close to home, so the Saint Nicholas pics will have to wait for another day.
I hope you have a wonderful time establishing Advent traditions with your family!