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St. Nicholas day checklist

 

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St. Nicholas day checklist This St Nicholas day checklist is a historical and celebration guide explaining origins and rich traditions of this great ancient feast coming from Christian orthodox legacy. This checklist provides you with overview at origin, his deeds and merits which make him recognized worldwide as one of the greatest saints, and of course the holiday dedicated to honoring this wonderful historic person.


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Basic information:

  • Who is St Nicholas?

Nikolaos of Myra is the great Christian saint who was born during the third century (270 A.D) in the village of Patara in Lycia (at that time area was inhabited by people of Greek descent, today it is the southern coast of Turkey); later this real person became the model for the popular and heavily commercialized today Christmas character known in the modern world (mainly in English-speaking countries) as Santa Claus. He is also well-known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker owing to multitude of miracles attributed to his holy intercession (also he is known as the Bishop of Myra, Defender of Orthodoxy);

  • The story of St Nicholas:

He was born in a wealthy family, and his parents raised him to be a faithful and devout Christian. Later his parents died because of epidemic while Nicholas was still young. He inherited their wealth and, obeying the learning of Jesus Christ, had spent his whole legacy to help those who are in need – the sick, poor, and suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and assisting people. He earned a reputation for his secret gift-giving practice. He was ordained to be Bishop of Myra while being still a young man, and he suffered for his faith (was exiled and imprisoned) during ruthless persecutions against Christians arranged under the rule of heathen Roman Emperor Diocletian. Saint Nicholas died in 347 A.D and was buried in his cathedral church;

  • The legend of St Nicholas:

Saint Nicholas is distinguished and honored by all the Christian world for his great faith and his charity (he did many kind and generous deeds secretly, expecting nothing in return, so he became the personification of Christian love and affection). His faith was so great, that with his prayer he could calm a stormy sea, resurrect and heal people, miraculously provide food during famine, and do many other great miracles. He rescued many innocents from death, many poor from poverty, and many sailors from shipwrecks. For his faith, good deeds, holy wonders, generosity to people in need and for his love for children, St. Nicholas is recognized as the great patron Saint of children (especially orphans and poor children), seafarers, travelers, those who are imprisoned, students, teachers, indigent people, and many others;

  • The exact date of birth is unknown (the Nativity of St. Nicholas in the Russian Orthodox Church is celebrated on July 29, or August 11th on the Julian calendar), but the anniversary of his death became a day of worldwide celebration on December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar);

Activities:

  • This feast is sometimes called the “mini-Christmas” and it is a feast of charity, so in the spirit of St. Nicholas’s deeds, it would be great to make Anonymous Gifts to someone who really needs them! (It might be members of your family, friends, or somebody whom you don’t even know);
  • Visiting local hospitals, nursing homes, and orphanages to personally provide donations, gifts and assistance to indigent people, to those who are seriously sick, to old and lone people;
  • Arranging and hosting St Nicholas eve dinner (it could be a charity dinner or you can just invite your friends, neighbors and family to share holiday meal and exchange wrapped gifts);

Traditional recipes include hot flavored tea, mulled wine, different kinds of punch, spiced and honey cookies, themed cakes with honey and nuts, hot desserts with cream, colorful marzipan, all kinds of candies, meat soups, pastry with almonds, etc (actually every nation has dozens of their native holiday breads which you can study to cook).

  • Visiting Church and offering up a prayer:

(TROPARION OF ST. NICHOLAS)

An example of the Faith and a life of humility, as a teacher of abstinence you did inspire and lead your flock and through your truthfulness of your deeds were exalted by greatness through your humility uplifting all and by poverty gaining wealth. Father and hierarch Nicholas intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.

  • School activities may include reading stories and talking about deeds of Saint Nicholas (a big number of wonderful and edifying legends are attributed to life of this great saint; they can be studied as reminders of the true spirit of Christmas);
  • On this day parents and teachers usually present their children and students with candies and sweets. Children can be proposed to put their shoes outside of the room door. While children participate in friendly contest of poems (or singing traditional songs), one of adults fills one shoe of each pair with a small bag of chocolate candies, sugarplum, peppermints, chocolates, and other goodies;
  • Making St. Nicholas Christmas tree ornaments and St. Nicholas figures. This saint is recognized for his red and yellow bishop’s miter, and actually he is pictured in old world as an ascetic-looking bishop, with white beard, red robes, mitre, and crozier, so you can explain to your children the difference between a fat, jolly, red-nosed gentleman in a snowsuit known as Santa Claus and his real-life prototype;
  • Writing letters to the Santa Claus (St Nicholas) – in such letters children could review and analyze their behaviors during the passed year, and ask for gifts which they would be glad to get on Christmas from St Nicholas; 


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