Saturday, December 6, 2008

Feast of St. Nicholas

Painting by Paolo Veronese

Today is the feast of St. Nicholas!
You know, Santa Claus. St. Nick.

It's Advent! What better feast can you find in this season of preparation?

The timing here is always perfect, more so for us this year.
Miss M has been asking the classic kid question of the season: "Is Santa Clause real?"
Sigh.
"Yes. Santa Clause is St. Nicholas and he is real."
That usually suffices for now, but as my eldest said "Ah, it's over Mom. She knows."
Maybe. But not enough to run with it and declare it out loud, it's one more year of the shiver of wonder, the fading "maybe."
So we'll take it and run with it too.
But even so, today is the feast of the real St. Nicholas and it's a fun thing to remember and celebrate. The most common thing to do is to set out shoes and fill them with a few gifts, sort of an early stocking but with a shoe. I always intend to do this. I have never managed it. But it sounds like fun! This site has a lot more ideas too on how to mark this day.
Painting by Otto Van Veen

So my girl might be figuring out the logistics of the secular Santa fun. But the real St. Nicholas is still worth knowing and remembering today. His greatest gift was not the legendary gifts he left in the night but his staunch defense of the Church and her teachings and his faith. And that is all the more reason to celebrate this saint, especially at this time of year.

The legend of Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Jolly Old St Nick, is great fun and we play along too. But of course it is advent and we prepare for the coming of Jesus, the incarnation and it is in this that we meet with the message of St. Nicholas and the import this season. Buddybug's professor made a great point about this in a lecture this week, go see, a little gift of something to ponder during these cold nights leading up to Christmas.

The St. Nicholas Society has a good set of prayers for this day, here. But I'll leave this one below, a good one to try, maybe that plus setting out some shoes and sweets....

Good St Nicholas,

Help us prepare for the miracle of the coming of Jesus.
Help us not to be blind to the gifts of getting ready.
Help us be sincere in the greetings we send and receive, with love and prayer.

Kind St. Nicholas, protect us from fatigue, stress, overspending,
yet help us to be kind and generous of heart to all,
especially those who are alone, financially poor and fearful.


May our celebration of your feast lead others to see the true meaning of giving and receiving
and guide all people to
the greatest of all gifts, Jesus Christ, prince of peace and child of Mary,
Our Lord and only Savior.


Amen.

1 comment:

Ted and Lori said...

This is a day celebrated in Slovakia (and most Eastern/Central European countries) by setting out shoes for Svaty Mikulas to fill. I always really loved this tradition, though I never got treats in my shoes--just friends or students who would give me chocolate on December 6th. We've talked about doing this with Abe...but like you, we didn't get around to it this year.