Happy St. Nicholas Day! December 6 is the feastday of St. Nicholas, a day we remember the 4th-century Bishop of Myra (in modern-day Turkey) who was famous for his generosity.
One of the stories of Bishop Nicholas tells how he repaid a man's debts in order to rescue the man's three daughters from slavery. Hoping to keep his identity secret, Bishop Nicholas visited the family's house at night and tossed a bag of gold through an open window, where it landed in a shoe that was drying by the fire. What joy when the gold was discovered in the morning!
St. Nicholas is, of course, the inspiration for our Santa Claus legends. And whether or not your kids believe in Santa, we think St. Nicholas Day is a great opportunity to teach them (and yourself!) about this generous Christian man. Consider doing a kind deed — a "Nicholas deed" — for others today and throughout the holiday season.
We've listed below several resources for your enjoyment of St. Nicholas Day. If you're wondering why we're talking about saints at all, check out our post "Following the example of saints."
This prayer from the Book of Common Prayer is perfect for the day:
Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
St. Nicholas Center is the internet's top resource on St. Nicholas, the many legends surrounding his life, and how he's remembered around the world.
Last night, St. Nicholas Eve, our kids each left a shoe outside their bedroom door for St. Nicholas to fill with a small treat. They'll wake this morning to chocolate coins, a sweet reminder of Bishop Nicholas's generosity. And check out this fun craft idea from The Homely Hours: the St. Nick Treat Bag Topper.
Books and movies
Books: The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving brings together the historical legend of St. Nicholas and a modern-day tale to teach kids about the joys of giving. The Gift From St. Nicholas is a heartwarming story about St. Nicholas's visit to a village in the midst of winter. It's totally fictional, but the surprise ending will bring a smile to your face.
Movies: To be honest, we haven't found a movie about St. Nicholas that we love. The VeggieTales St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving is fun, especially for younger kids, but takes a lot of creative license with Bishop Nicholas's life. Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa by CCC of America (a Catholic media company) is a more historical account, but the storytelling is too disjointed and didactic for kids to really connect with. Still, both of these movies have something to teach, so enjoy them this season as we keep our eyes out for new media.