St. Nicholas Day is a beautiful Christmas tradition that helps your family celebrate the season.
st-nicholas-day-2014

St. Nicholas Day

Celebrate December 6th

I am sure there isn’t a single one of you who doesn’t know who Santa Claus is, but have you ever heard of St. Nicholas Day?

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My mother was a first generation American. Her relatives all live in Bavaria, the southeast state of Germany best known for the Alps, the Bavarian Forest, Oktoberfest, Lederhosen, the Rhine River, bratwurst, beer, and fairy-tale castles. My grandparents held on to some of the traditions of their native land to keep the heritage alive, one such tradition was St. Nicholas Day.

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St. Nicholas Day is December 6th of every year. The tradition stems from a 4th century bishop who became the protector of children and sailors. It is said that he did kind deeds and secretly helped those in need by putting coins and gifts into their shoes. Over the centuries, the tradition led children to polish their shoes or boots and leave them outside the door, in a window sill, or on the hearth. Children would leave carrots or hay in their boots for St. Nicholas’ horse or donkey, and if you were good, and kind, and said your prayers, St. Nicholas would come in the night and fill your shoes with goodies.

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Does this sound like Christmas Stockings hung by the chimney with care, or leaving milk and cookies for Santa? It is easy to see that the legends of Santa Claus and Father Christmas derive from St. Nicholas.

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Around our home, St. Nicholas Day always brought oranges or tangerines, nuts, and a small gift from St. Nicholas. And each year on Christmas morning, our stockings held chocolate gold coins.

St. Nicholas

For my kids, The tradition was much the same, but they had two Advent calendars–one, a traditional German Advent calendar like these…

and the other, a fabric calender with pocket bags that tied shut. On St. Nicholas Day, instead of a coin or piece of candy in the pocket, they would find a note. Well, more precisely a riddle that was a clue. Solving the riddle would lead them around the house on a scavenger hunt, until they arrived at the little gift left by St. Nicholas. They too get chocolate coins in their stockings on Christmas morning.

At some point during the day, whether it was after school or before bedtime, I would read them stories about St. Nicholas.

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St. Nicholas Day is a fun, low-key celebration in the beginning of Advent that reminds children to be kind, and good, and thoughtful–just another wonderful way to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ child.

Want some other ideas for celebrating? Check out my St. Nicholas Day Pinterest Board.

St. Nicholas Day is a German family christmas tradition brought to the United States. Celebrated on December 6th.

Will you celebrate St. Nicholas Day?

What special traditions of heritage do you celebrate?

 

 

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