December 6th is the feast day of St. Nicholas! It is a wonderful way to bring a religious spin on Santa and the tradition of giving.
Nicholas lived in the 300s in Asia, the Turkey region. As a boy, his parents taught him to love Jesus and Nicholas wanted to live the way Jesus taught. He loved Jesus and looked for ways to serve him through helping others. A sickness swept through the land and Nicholas parents died leaving him with wealth. Nicholas soon gave all his money to help others. When he heard about a man who was so poor, his three daughters would not have a dowry to get married, so they would become slaves. Nicholas through three bags of gold coins into the window by the fireplace. The family was blessed and the daughters could marry and live their lives as free women.
One day a bishop was needed and god told oldest bishop in a dream about Nicholas. Nicholas walked into church at the moment God had said he would and he was made Bishop Nicholas. There are many stories of lives Nicholas saved, storms quieted, and people fed that involve miracle after miracle.
After Nicholas’ death, people thought the gifts that arrived to celebrate Jesus’ birth would stop, but they did not. They grew! They continue today. To read more about the many miracles and the love of Nicholas for Jesus, visit www.stnicholascenter.org .
Ways to celebrate this saint: Have someone dress up as Bishop Nicholas and visit a service or a group of gathered children. Our Nicholas leaves something in the shoes of those who gathered.
Ways to celebrate online:
Tell the story of Nicholas and livestream it. Use as many props as you can find!
Read a book and livestream it:
- Wonderworker: The True Story of How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus
- The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Anselem Grun
- Make a Bishop Miter
- Make a St. Nicholas ornament
Choose an outreach program that benefits children in honor of St. Nicholas and post stories from them encouraging gift giving.
Post a few “How different countries celebrate St. Nicholas: In the Netherlands, on St. Nicholas Day, a family member makes a gift (they create it) and write a poem about the person. Names are drawn two weeks before so each family member has someone’s name and gets a gift. Try this for the day!
Have an “Ask St. Nicholas” and encourage children to text or put their questions in the comment section.
Encourage children to write a letter to St. Nicholas asking for something for someone else.
St. Nicholas gave out of his love for Jesus, encourage a love offering to Jesus (a gift for another, a letter, a picture drawn, food for a food bank, etc.)
Once you have a St. Nicholas Day, then use it to replace the words Santa Claus with St. Nicholas or Bishop Nicholas.