The Feast of St. Nicholas - How to Celebrate
The Feast of St. Nicholas is coming up this Sunday, December 6th and we want to help you plan your celebration. It is such a great opportunity to have a joy-filled day with your family and teach your children a little more about St. Nicholas! It is also a great reason to remind your kids to be on their best behavior...St. Nick is on his way.
St. Nicholas Day is one of my favorite childhood memories. In fact, I still love St. Nicholas Day! Although I am an adult with a child of my own, my mom is so incredible that she still fills my shoes with something special on the day.
As a child, my sisters and I were so excited to line up our shoes the night before St. Nicholas Day. We took our time and made sure they were lined up ever so nicely. Did it matter? Maybe not, but we wanted to be sure that St. Nicholas didn’t miss a single shoe!
The next morning, we would all jump out of our beds faster than any other day of the year besides maybe Christmas. Our feet would quickly carry us down the stairs, through the kitchen to the back door where our shoes were waiting. We each would seize our shoes and begin exclaiming over the goodies inside: candies, maybe a little trinket, and always two shiny quarters. Next to our shoes, there was typically one treat for all of us to share...Little Debbie cakes. The mornings of St. Nicholas Day were short, sweet, and memories I cherish.
So, whether this is your first, tenth, or twentieth year celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas, I hope this blog will help you know a little more about St. Nicholas and how to celebrate him.
What do we know about St. Nicholas?
Some, but not much! We know that St. Nicholas lived in the 4th century and was born in the Asia Minor. For the most part, St. Nicholas was raised by his uncle as his parents passed away while he was still young. St. Nicholas was raised in a devout Christian household and had a deep desire to be charitable in whatever way he could. One of the most well-known occasions of his charity was when he secretly gave money to a man with three daughters. The family was living in poverty and did not have much hope of coming out of their destitution. St. Nicholas secretly supported the family with his own inheritance. The father of the three girls eventually caught St. Nicholas and expressed his deep gratitude which St. Nicholas humbly accepted.
This was not the only occasion of St. Nicholas’s kindness. It is also not all that he is known for. St. Nicholas was also a steadfast and stout defender of the faith. Because of his commitment to His faith and His deep love for the Lord, St. Nicholas found himself in a variety of difficult and sometimes dangerous situations. On one occasion, St. Nicholas was tortured and imprisoned for his faith. He was also a strong voice against the heretic Arian as well as many pagans at that time.
We are so fortunate to have so many saints to serve as witnesses to the faith, models of holiness, and as intercessors for us. St. Nicholas gives us an example of generosity, kindness, strength, and devotion.
How to prepare for the Feast of St. Nicholas
Perhaps, the best way to prepare for St. Nicholas Day is to tell your children about him! Tell them his story...show them his picture...explain why he is a saint. Telling our children stories of the saints is such a wonderful way to share more about the faith and give them great role models for life.
It is also good to encourage your children to follow the example of St. Nicholas. Encourage them to find ways to love others (their siblings, their parents, their friends). What are ways that they can be generous? Perhaps, they can spend time with their younger sibling. Maybe they can do a chore without complaining. Maybe they can draw a picture, write a card, or do some other sort of craft to give to a loved one.
On a practical note, get to the store! Part of St. Nicholas Day is giving small gifts, small enough to fit in shoes or at least close to that. Whether you are going to the store or ordering online, be sure to get those items ahead of time. You can find some ideas for St. Nicholas gifts further down in this article.
Celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas!
The night before St. Nicholas Day, it is time to set out the shoes. Growing up, this typically took place after bath time when we were all in our PJs just minutes from climbing into bed. We grabbed our shoes and lined them up to make sure St. Nicholas didn’t miss a one!
Once the kids are asleep or bright and early before they wake up, fill those shoes! There’s a lot of different options for gifts. Candy is always a good go to. I am sure you know some of your children’s favorites. It is also a tradition to fill shoes with chocolate gold coins to remind us of the gold St. Nicholas shared with those less fortunate.
You can also find some other fantastic shoe stuffers. Our own Chews Life Saint Bracelets or our Chews Life Mini Decades are great shoe stuffers! Each one also bears a great reminder of a saint or our Mother Mary.
Another great gift could be a Shining Light Doll. These dolls are so adorable and such great toys for your little ones. There are many saints to choose from and they offer a great opportunity to teach your children more about the saints. They are made so well and come with a short insert with lots of fun facts.
A recent find that I myself cannot wait to give as a shoe stuffer are Catholic ABC Flashcards by Just Love Prints. The images are so fun and joyful and are a great way to teach your little one more about the faith. On each flashcard, there is a symbol of the faith depicted along with a letter of the alphabet. Using these flashcards, your child will learn that “B” is for “Baptism” and “R” is for “Rosary.” These flashcards are so fun and an absolute must!
Those are just some ideas for shoe stuffers. There is even more you can do to celebrate the day and make it special for your family. In my family, our special breakfast treat was Little Debbie cakes...maybe not the healthiest breakfast, but definitely a treat. Having something special for breakfast on the Feast of St. Nicholas is a great way to make the day extra celebratory. Perhaps, it is offering your children’s favorite cereals, cooking up some amazing French Toast, or making some excellent breakfast sandwiches. Hopefully a treat for breakfast will really set this day apart as a celebration.
One last opportunity for the Feast of St. Nicholas is to pay it forward. St. Nicholas was all about generosity. He took every opportunity he could to show kindness to others and give all he could to them. As a family, come up with some way to be generous to others. There are many ways to do this and some of them can be quite simple. Perhaps, your family can bake some delicious cookies or some other treat to leave on friends’ porches with a note that says “From St. Nicholas.” It is great fun to come up with ways to show others kindness. Just think, “What would St. Nicholas do?”
Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!
Drop some of your own St. Nicholas Day ideas in the comments below!
Mariah Mulderink is wife, mom, Masters in Theology student, and marketing director for Chews Life. Her greatest joys are her faith, her family, her friends, and any chance to be competitive. For her, one of the greatest privileges she has received is the opportunity to pursue her Masters in Theology. Studying the faith is not only fascinating but is also a beautiful way to know God better. She hopes her studies and her faith will always equip her to share Christ in her work and with every person she meets.
You can find out more about her here.