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Scott P. Richert

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

By December 6, 2013

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December 6 is the Feast of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a bishop from the fourth century.Icon of Saint Nicholas of Myra, bishop and wonderworker. (Photo  Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.) He is, of course, the model for our modern-day Santa Claus, because Saint Nicholas's generosity was legendary. His generosity continued even after his death, through the many miracles (especially of healing) attributed to Saint Nicholas's intercession.

Saint Nicholas's charity was bound up with his firm orthodoxy, and it is said that, at the Council of Nicea in 325, he walked across the room to the heretic Arius, who denied the divinity of Christ, and slapped him in the face. It's hard to imagine our "right jolly old elf" doing that!

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of the Byzantine Catholic Church, and his feast day is very important to Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Positioned about halfway between the start of Philip's Fast--the Eastern Christian time of preparation that coincides with Advent--and Christmas, the Feast of Saint Nicholas provides some relief from the austerity of this "little Lent."

The night before Saint Nicholas Day, children place their shoes in a prominent location--say, by a fireplace, or outside their bedroom door. The next morning--usually very early--the children find their shoes filled with little presents from the great saint.

Like many Advent customs, the celebration of Saint Nicholas Day reminds us that Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Christ. The love of Saint Nicholas, while great, pales in comparison with the love that Christ has for all of mankind.

(Icon of Saint Nicholas of Myra, bishop and wonderworker. Photo Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)

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December 6, 2007 at 8:11 pm
(1) daylight 365 says:

The “Saint Nicolas” is a big celebration day in the Lorraine region of France where he is the patron saint. There’s a parade and St Nicolas throws candy from his “chariot”.

December 3, 2008 at 8:51 am
(2) anne says:

Dear friends
as we celebrate the feast of saint Nicholas, please pray for me that God will grant me a life partner, as we wait to celebrate, the birth of Jesus,

December 4, 2008 at 7:39 am
(3) WB says:

Now that we have moved to a house with a fireplace, I think it’s time my husband and I began putting our shoes out on St. Nicholas’s Day :)

We have simplified our Christmas, we now buy items for the household rather than searching for trinkets for each other. This year it is a new dining table and chairs to replace the 24 year old set, which we donated to charity.

December 4, 2008 at 12:12 pm
(4) Silva Family says:

A wonderful tradition we have started in our home. A tidbit, is to celebrate the Saint of the day :)

December 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm
(5) litlace1 says:

Christ was born Oct. 6th. Why celebrate Dec. 25th ?

December 6, 2009 at 10:47 pm
(6) gregory bible says:

being a saint consist of to thigs be good and proclaiming salvation threw crist .nicholas counts for but for the other he does not he doesnt show any thing in the resson of his hope for eturnal life and thats we love fists but that god love us threw fist.Thats faith not we could be good enofe to go to heave but we have heaven when we esept jesus

December 8, 2009 at 10:31 pm
(7) Scott P. Richert says:

Gregory Bible, I would encourage you to read up on the life of Saint Nicholas. You could start with the link in the first paragraph of my post. In everything that he did, Saint Nicholas proclaimed that salvation comes through Christ.

December 11, 2009 at 8:18 pm
(8) Kim says:

My heritage is German catholic and we have been celebrating this tradition through many generations it is a great tradition and one with a great meaning behind it i hope to celebrate it with my children so that they can pass it on

December 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm
(9) elizabeth says:

I realize Santa Clause is not real but with this explanation it helps me understand more about the real st. nicholas and, the made up santa that is not real.
Makes me a little sad too but, my Son knows Santa clause does not exist, at least not anymore he is 17 now.

December 8, 2010 at 7:03 am
(10) Katie says:

I just wonder if you don’t wear green on St. Nicholas day you will get pinched? That’s what people did to me!

December 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm
(11) Stephen Bentz says:

we were very disapointed that St Nickolas was not mentioned in the daily mass Dec 6, What is the reason

December 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm
(12) Scott P. Richert says:

Mr. Bentz, Saint Nicholas’s feast is an optional memorial. Each day of Advent has its own Mass, so that Mass would take precedence. Most parishes would only celebrate an optional memorial if the saint in question were the patron saint of the parish or were somehow special to the congregation.

November 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm
(13) The african says:

SOOOOOO………………..Santa claus is actually black……Lying ass europeans

December 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm
(14) Cheri says:

I tell my non-Catholic friends that one of the beauties of being Catholic is that even as an adult I’m allowed to believe in “Santa Claus” (or Sint Niklaas or San Nicolas or whatever name from whatever language you want to transliterate from). OK, not the fat man in the red suit from the North Pole who climbs down chimneys on Christmas Eve, but rather the saint who was known for his gift-giving generosity. I think that in discovering that Santa Claus isn’t “real” it would be a much easier transition for a child who learns that Santa Claus was derived from a real person than to think that he’d been totally hoodwinked all his young life. But a Catholic child (or anyone of any age!) can still pray to St. Nick to intercede for their wants and needs. We may not always get what we want, but surely the Lord will grant us what we need – in His time. St. Nick won’t likely bring gifts wrapped under a tree, but he can pray for us to Jesus, just as we can pray for others. St. James says that “the prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” St. Nick was surely a righteous man, so it’s nice to know he’s got our back as a prayer warrior. Happy Feast Day, all! :)

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