The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic God’s giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves. —Nicholas
On December 6 the church commemorates Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, or as he is more commonly called, St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a fourth-century bishop, serving for twenty-five years in a city that is now in Turkey. Stories of his care for children led to his being named the protector of children and eventually to his evolution into Santa Claus. In some northern European places, December 6, Nicholas’s death day, is the day of winter gift-giving (see More Days for Praise [Augsburg Fortress, 2016], 282).
In this time when we are often worshiping at home, it is very fitting to find ways to mark St. Nicholas Day at home.
Here are some ideas:
- St. Nicholas Eve. On the eve of St. Nicholas Day (December 5), have children place a shoe or boot outside their bedroom door. Parents or caregivers can fill the shoe with little gifts, much as you would a Christmas stocking. Gold coins are the traditional gift, associated with the legend of St. Nicholas providing dowries in the form of bags of gold to three impoverished young girls, to save them from prostitution.
- Act of kindness. Have each family member draw another family member’s name from a hat. Perform a secret act of kindness for the person whose name you have drawn.
- Surprise your neighbors. You can leave a small gift such as a tin of cookies on a neighbor’s doorstep. You could include a simple note, mentioning a little about St. Nicholas and his generosity.
- Keep Advent. St. Nicholas Day might be a way to gradually introduce Christmas decorating while still observing Advent. Perhaps you hang Christmas stockings on St. Nicholas Day or make your plans for giving to others in need this season. Check out the ELCA’s Good Gifts catalog.
For more about St. Nicholas, visit https://www.stnicholascenter.org.