Good Saint Nicholas

We are celebrating the Feast of Saint Nicholas in small ways. I’m making a honey cake to eat after dinner tonight and yesterday, on the eve of St. Nicholas’s birthday, the children polished their boots and set them out to see if perhaps some treats might appear there. Indeed, Lucas and Asher did receive some traditional Saint Nicholas goodies this morning: oranges, chocolates, and walnuts.

This morning Daddy said, “Go look in your boots.” Asher was incredulous. “Go look in my boots?!” The poor kid teared up when he saw the orange in his red rain boots. He’s not a big fan of oranges. But when he found the chocolate he cheered right up again and gobbled some down. (Mmmm … chocolate at 7:04 a.m.!) Lucas opted to have his orange in his lunch box today.

I made this needle-felted Saint Nicholas to display for the holiday. He’s presently on our kitchen table with Sturdylegs the Donkey.

Needle-Felted Saint Nicholas

Kind old man, St. Nicholas dear,
Come to our house this year.
Here’s some straw and here’s some hay
For your little donkey gray.

Pray put something in my shoe,
I’ve been good the whole year through,
Kind old man, St. Nicholas dear,
Come to our house this year.

(from Germany, and the Winter book from Wynstones Press)

We are also reading Christine Natale’s St. Nicholas stories, which are found on this Saint Nicholas Center website along with lots and lots of Saint Nicholas resources and recipes. I admit I’m editing the stories a bit to make them suit our family. I really do like the examples of Nicholas doing good deeds as a boy; I think Natale has done a great job of relating the concept of generosity in a way that children can easily understand.

Second Grade Saints: Saint Nicholas
Lucas’s Saint Nicholas drawing from last year in second grade.

It is said that Saint Nicholas is the children’s saint because he rewards their goodness (and his buddy, Rupert/Krampus/Black Peter punishes bad children who don’t learn their lessons or obey their parents). Celebrating Nicholas’s giving spirit is good preparation for Christmas, which is why they call him the Advent saint. This celebration wasn’t part of Ian’s or my childhood (funny, considering our Austrian roots), so we are feeling our way into it and enjoying the parts we want.

There is a beautiful children’s picture book by Demi, The Legend of Saint Nicholas, published in 2003. Demi’s marvelous, gilded illustrations present Nicholas’s life and many miracles, and explain how he came to be the patron saint of so many groups. (There is one story I’m not at all fond of, however. I would recommend that parents read this book first, and then decide whether to present it to their children.)

Page from Demi's The Legend of Saint Nicholas

Do you celebrate this day? How do you celebrate?

2 Responses to “Good Saint Nicholas”

  • Tracy Shringarpure
    December 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    My family growing up didn’t celebrate anything during the Christmas season except giant piles of presents on Christmas day. And my husband grew up in India, so everything about Christmas is new to him. But, I love the idea of moving away from presents, and creating a month of wonderful memories and experiences with my two daughters (3 and 4 1/2). Last year I missed the ball almost completely and we simply did 12 days of Christmas. But this year, I got my Wynstone Press Winter book out before advent was over, and we’re reading poems and stories from there. For St. Nicholas day, I really latched onto the idea of him bringing apples and nuts to the poor. So, this morning we found a bowl on our table full of nuts and an apple for each family member. And this afternoon we baked a simple honey cake to eat after dinner.

    I think next year, we might make St. Nicholas gift baskets to deliver anonymously to our neighbors by hanging them on their door, ringing and running! 🙂


  • Sara
    December 6, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Tracy. It’s easy to “miss the ball” when there’s so much going on in family life. But it doesn’t sound like you have done that at all. We have holiday traditions, but we also change things up and adapt as our needs and understandings change. I think that’s OK because we’re all growing and learning, right? Parents, too.  🙂 

    Our honey cake was amazing! I hope yours was, too! Happy holidays!


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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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