>First Advent now Saint Nicholas Day? That’s right. You can learn all about it at Saint Nicholas: Discovering the Truth About Santa Claus, the website of the St. Nicholas Center. The story of Bishop Nicholas is a great one. I will not attempt to retell it all here. Go to the website and you will find all the articles you can handle. Will the Real Santa Please Stand Up has this to say about St. Nicholas,
“Unlike the mythical Santa running a toy shop far off at the North Pole, Saint Nicholas presents us with an authentic witness of Christian virtue. Instead of beckoning us to join the holiday rat-race, Saint Nicholas calls us to run the great race of faith (II Timothy 4:7). The Church’s traditions can make us aware of this reality by making it tangible, like the twelve stones of Joshua, pointing to the power of God (Joshua 4). So it’s appropriate, in a way, that the Feast of Saint Nicholas and the Feast of the Nativity have come together in our culture. The Incarnation was God’s arrival among humanity, and Saint Nicholas witnesses to His continued presence among us.”
That’s a good summary statement but please poke around the website to read more. The stories are great. The real St. Nick was a wonderful example of selfless giving and kindheartedness for the glory of Christ. Some may cluck their tongues at this one but the story of a heated moment at the Council of Nicea between Nicholas the “theological enforcer” (not really) and Arius makes me smile. You can read about it in Slappy Holiday: Why not take the Santa Claus tradition a little further?
How We Are Observing Saint Nicholas Day
Last night my wife and I (but primarily my wife who deserves the credit for the bulk of our Advent and St. Nicholas Day activities) filled stockings with small gifts for our girls to open this morning. Some candy, socks and other small items. Is this just more consumerism and materialism? No. We have read the stories of St. Nicholas to our girls and have talked at length about why he is a good model of generosity, selflessness, humility and kindness all for the purpose of giving glory to Christ our King. But more than that we are following St. Nick’s example anonymous giving in order to meet the needs of others. We are giving an anonymous gift to another family tonight. Enough said. The St. Nicholas Center website has a page called “How to Celebrate” where you can read about other ideas. Its not too late to do something this evening or you could just do something tomorrow.
Are we worshipping saints or some such thing by observing St. Nicholas Day (as some will undoubtedly say, you know who you are)? Not at all. Just trying to follow the example of a godly man and recapture some of the true history behind some of our Christmas customs.