Every year on December 6th, people around the world come together to celebrate St. Nicholas Day.
The Life of St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, merchants, and children, was born in the 3rd century in Patara, a town in modern-day Turkey. He came from a wealthy family and, after his parents' death, he inherited a considerable fortune. But he chose to devote his life to helping others, especially those in need.
One of the most famous stories about St. Nicholas tells of his secret gift-giving. He heard of a poor man with three daughters who couldn't afford dowries for their marriages, leaving them at risk of being sold into slavery. Wanting to help, St. Nicholas dropped bags of gold through the family's window at night, providing for the dowries and securing their future. This act of kindness and charity is one of the reasons why St. Nicholas is known for generosity.
St. Nicholas's Day Celebrations
St. Nicholas's Day is a time to celebrate the life of this remarkable saint. Here are some ways in which some people celebrate this special day:
Acts of Charity
St. Nicholas Day is the perfect occasion for Catholic families to actively embrace the joy of giving:
- Community Drives: Look for local charity events or community drives that include food, clothing, and toy collections. Participate as a family in selecting and donating items.
- Blanket-Making: Organize a family or community gathering to make blankets for homeless shelters or individuals in need. This hands-on activity not only provides warmth but is a great way to share the joy of the season with those in need.
- Letter-Writing Campaign: Encourage your kids to write letters or draw pictures to send to soldiers overseas, nursing home residents, or hospitalized patients. This simple and thoughtful gesture brings joy to others and teaches the importance of spreading the love of Christ.
St. Nicholas Feast Day and Gatherings
St. Nicholas Day is, first and foremost a Catholic feast day where we celebrate and recognize St. Nicholas during the liturgy and in everyday life.
One important way to celebrate is to attend Mass. After Mass, consider learning about the life and teachings of St. Nicholas - remembering the importance of faith and charity in everyday life.
The tradition of gift giving
Probably the most common way to celebrate is with the exchange of small gifts. This tradition echoes the secret gift-giving of St. Nicholas himself.
St. Nicholas's Day holds an important place in the Advent season, leading up to Christmas. By celebrating St. Nicholas's Day, we are reminded of the importance of love, charity, and faith as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus on Christmas.
On St. Nicholas's Day, many celebrate by filling shoes with small gifts and treats. This charming tradition is reminiscent of the story of St. Nicholas secretly leaving gifts for those in need.
Children place their shoes by the fireplace or outside their bedroom door, and during the night, St. Nicholas is said to visit and fill them with candies, coins, oranges, and other surprises.
This great tradition not only brings joy to the little ones but also creates a sense of excitement and anticipation in the lead-up to Christmas.
There are many different ways to celebrate St. Nicholas Day - how does your family celebrate?