Sunday, December 6, 2015

5 Ways to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day

This is the first Christmas I've really put some thought into traditions I want to start with my family. With Grace old enough to get excited about lights and the tree (I'd take a little less enthusiasm around the Christmas tree!), I wanted to start some traditions.

I wrote earlier about our Advent wreath. Another tradition from my family that I wanted to resurrect from my childhood was celebrating St. Nicholas Day. His feast day is Dec. 6, and he is the inspiration for our modern day Santa Claus. He used his inheritance from his wealthy parents to help the needy and became known for his generosity, especially his love for children.

We used to get candy in our shoes and set up our Christmas tree on St. Nicholas Day. I wanted to find some things that were meaningful yet simple enough to do with a toddler, and on a week night for those years when we're not lucky enough to have St. Nicholas Day fall on a weekend. So, setting up the Christmas tree was clearly out. Here is what we did instead:
  1. Filling shoes: I had to put the items under her shoes due to their rather small size. I included a piece of chocolate, an ornament and a Christmas book. I wanted to focus on things we could use during the rest of the Christmas season and would reinforce some of the things St. Nicholas represents.
  2. Donating toys: We visited a local story that is a collection point for Toys 4 Tots to pick out and donate some toys.
  3. Doing a craft: We kept things pretty simple. I just printed off a coloring sheet for Grace.
  4. Reading a story: I read a simple story I printed out online about St. Nicholas.
  5. Saying a prayer: We swapped our normal bedtime prayer with a prayer about St. Nicholas.
The St. Nicholas Center website was a great resource for ideas and materials. I got the coloring sheet, story and  prayer for there. The site has a lot of other great ideas as well as recipes, information about St. Nicholas, traditions and more.

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