Thursday, November 20, 2008

St. Nicholas Day

Since someone asked about ideas for St. Nicholas - I will go ahead and post that first. Our family tradition is quite simple. On December 5th our church typically has liturgy for St. Nicholas (though it varies, some years it is that evening, on others it is on the morning of the 6th). After liturgy that night, the children take their shoes and place them outside our front door. The younger ones like to add a little hay in their shoes for St. Nicholas' horse. That evening we read stories about St. Nicholas, focusing on the character trait of giving unselfishly. The kids then go around the house and find several items they are willing to give up. We put these items in a bag and leave it on the front porch, so St. Nicholas can take it to children who are not as fortunate. Then they crawl into bed to await the arrival of St. Nicholas. In the morning, the bag of toys is gone, and inside their shoes, they find a small sack of chocolate coins (just like St. Nicholas left for the daughters' dowries) and a little gift. The gift is usually a book or some small trinket - when possible it has something to do with St. Nicholas or the season of Advent. Since part of the point of this exercise is to eliminate some junk from the house, I try to not then add to the junk the next morning! Finally, St. Nicholas leaves a letter for each child, telling the children how he has seen them grow in their faith that year, and mentioning any particular positive character traits they may have been developing. We save the letters to go into a scrapbook so they can go back and read them later. We do not put gifts in their stocking for St. Nicholas Day, because we have another tradition for our stockings that comes from my husband's family. I'll share that one a little later!

Resources for St. Nicholas Day Ideas

The St. Nicholas Center - a site with stories, crafts and ideas for creating your own traditions
Paidea Classics - a made in USA source for chocolate coins - they even say St. Nicholas on them!
The Real St. Nicholas - a collection of stories about St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas Life - an Orthodox source for the life of St. Nicholas

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