Saint Nicholas Saving Seafarers (December 6)
From the Belles Heures of Jean, duke of Berry, fol. 168r
The Limbourg Brothers, France (Paris), active ca. 1400-1416
Tempera and gold on vellum
The Cloisters Collection, 1954
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York
Early in the Advent season celebrate a feast that has been popular for centuries in Christian countries, especially in Northern Europe. In our over-commercialized society, this holiday gives us a good "teaching moment" to remind children that Jolly Santa Claus, is, in fact, Saint Nicholas, a fourth century bishop of the city of Myra in what is now Turkey.
Saint Nicholas was renowned for his great kindness and his generous aid to those in distress. Among the kind and miraculous acts attributed to him are saving three young girls from prostitution by secretly providing them with dowries, raising three murdered boys from the dead, and saving sailors caught in stormy seas. For these reasons, he is considered the patron saint of children, unmarried girls, and sailors, among others.
Traditional celebrations of Saint Nicholas Day in Northern Europe included gifts left in children's shoes (the origin of our American Christmas stockings). Good children receive treats - candies, cookies, apples and nuts, while naughty children receive switches or lumps of coal. Sometimes coins were left in the shoes, reminiscent of the the life-saving doweries the saint provided. Today - especially in families of German extraction - children still put a shoe outside their bedroom doors on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, and expect to find candy and coins or small gifts in their shoe on December 6th.
In some households the father of the family may dress up as Saint Nicholas on the eve of his feast. He comes in, sometimes with his sidekick, Krampus or Black Peter, and helps each child examine his conscience. He admonishes the bad and rewards the good. If your family enjoys theatrics, this is a wonderful opportunity early in Advent to inspire children to amend their ways in preparation for the coming King. (Your family might get together with other families with young children and celebrate together.)
November 18, 2012 at 10:50 PM
We did this when I was a little girl.We put our shoes outside the door and would find goodies in them.I am going to do this with my kids,Wish I had done it before
November 18, 2012 at 10:51 PM
No we don't do Santa
by deadlights86November 18, 2012 at 10:51 PMWe tried one year but since we're not religious it didnt have much meaning and was lost on the kids.
November 18, 2012 at 11:13 PMYes we do. Always have.
by roxxytNovember 18, 2012 at 11:20 PMI did not know, it should still be celebrated instead of the commercialism that it is now. How sad it's all about toys and big screen tvs. We have lost so much. We are giving to charity this year instead of buying a bunch of stuff.
by bether89November 19, 2012 at 11:26 AM
We do not do this.
by EbonySnowNovember 19, 2012 at 1:14 PM
not one we do but interesting thanks for sharing
by slw123November 19, 2012 at 1:38 PMNo we dont
by GypsiSkyNovember 19, 2012 at 1:48 PM
No we haven't, but this is quite fascinating!!
by Rushn311November 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM
Nope we dont