Happy Memorial of St. Nicholas! Yesterday, I dressed up as St. Nicholas, no not Santa Claus but St. Nicholas for the Pre-School 3 and 4 year old’s as well as our kindergarten students. I had my Miter, a priestly robe, and a beard. It was an enjoyable time with the students. Many catechists commented on how attentive their students were.
If you have class this week, here are a few things to keep in mind and possibly work sharing about St. Nicholas.
1. Why is St. Nicholas the Patron Saint of Children?
He is known especially in the West as the patron saint of children. There are many stories about him assisting children who were in danger or harms way as well as the many healings and miracles that occurred while he was alive and after his death. I’ll comment a little more under St. Nicholas and Santa regarding his patronage of children.
2. Why is St. Nicholas the Patron Saint of Brides (those to be married).
The most popular story is Nicholas discovering that 3 young women who were fairly poor and would not be able to Marry (some stories say they would have been sold into slavery) in the future unless they had a dowry (the sum of money given from the bride’s family to the groom’s to help provide for the newly married couple). One night, Nicholas threw/tossed three bags of gold through an open window and they landed in the stockings of the three girls who were drying their socks above the fire place (other stories say they landed in or just beside their shoes). Some countries even to this day have children leave their shoes out the night before the Feast of St. Nicholas in order for their shoes to be filled with candy and treats.
3. Why is he Patron Saint of Sailors and those setting out on boats/ships?
Tradition has it that he was on a ship with many others and there arose a fierce storm. All feared that death was near. They realized that Nicholas was calm and in prayer. Soon after the storm ceased and all were safe.
4. What is the the connection/link between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus?
The word Santa Claus is a derivative of the name St. Nicholas. It is said that Nicholas spent the wealth he received from his parents on giving gifts to others to those who were in need. In many places a tradition of anonymous/secret gift-giving began after his death.
5. What can we learn from St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas like all the saints are models of imitating Christ. His compassion, love, and desire to give unconditionally are all qualities that model Christ-like behavior. He stands out as a dynamic and vivid model for us to imitate. St. Nicholas and Santa Claus should keep our eyes focused on Christ. Christ is the reason for the Season. Without the Birth of the Messiah, the Word becoming flesh in human history, the tradition of Santa Claus coming once a year on Christmas would have never come to be what it is today. A perfect image is the kneeling Santa before the Christ child. Santa Claus should teach us to model Holiness – Ho Ho Ho (I teach kids that this is short for Holy, Holy, Holy).
Do one thing today that reflects the kindness, compassion and generosity of St. Nicholas who did it all for the love and glory of God! St. Nicholas…Pray for us!