How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day
The Original Santa Claus
Children love surprises and love Christmas. One tradition that is fun to celebrate with young children is St. Nicholas Day.
St. Nicholas was the forerunner of Santa Claus and, like Santa Claus, he secretly delivers gifts to good children as they sleep at night.
Instead of Christmas Eve, St. Nicholas delivers his gifts on the night of December 5th which is the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas or St. Nicholas Day which is December 6th. Also, instead of a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer, he usually travels on a horse.
The Dutch Brought The Celebration of St. Nicholas Day to North America
It was the Dutch who brought the celebration of St. Nicholas Day to America.
During the early days of the settlement of North America, the Dutch founded the colony of New Amsterdam at the mouth of the Hudson River where New York City stands today. In fact New York City began as the Dutch city of New Amsterdam.
The Dutch name for St. Nicholas was Sinterklaas which morphed into Santa Claus.
In some countries St. Nicholas brings presents on Christmas Eve, in other countries, including Holland, he brings presents on the eve of his feast day.
It was the 1822 poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clark Moore, that established Christmas Eve as the time of St. Nicholas' annual visit to children in America.
Moore is also responsible for changing St. Nicholas' mode of transportation from a horse to a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer. It wasn't too many years after the publication of Moore;s poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, that St. Nicholas evolved into the Santa Claus that we all know and love today.
St. Nicholas Day falls right within the Christmas season and, for people with young children, it can be celebrated as a part of the Christmas festivities for the children.
A visit from St. Nicholas on his horse during the night a couple of weeks before Christmas can give the children a taste of the pending big visit from Santa Claus that will be coming soon as well as a little break from the stress and excitement of waiting for the big day.
In addition to adding to the mystery and magic of the season for the children, celebrating the visit and sharing stories of the real saint upon whom our present Santa Claus is based can help children learn and better appreciate the spiritual aspect of Christmas.
Celebrating St. Nicholas Day With Children is Simple and Easy
Celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas, or St. Nicholas Day, is simple and easy. Since it is mainly for the children, it is best to keep the celebration simple and easy.
You can start by telling them the story of St. Nicholas and his kind acts – just click on the links at the end of this hub and you will be taken to other hubs of mine about St. Nicholas. I have also included links to other St. Nicholas sites on the Internet.
These stories will help children to see that the jolly old man who we now know as Santa Claus had his origins as a good and saintly man who enjoyed helping people and sharing his wealth with them.
St. Nicholas Arriving in Nazi Occupied Amsterdam During World War II
Have Children Put a Shoe Outside of the Bedroom Door on The Night of December 5th
On the evening of December 5th have the children place one of their shoes outside of their bedroom or hang their Christmas stocking on their bedroom door or other place.
They can also leave a carrot or apple in the shoe for St. Nick's horse (and maybe a cookie or two for St. Nick himself).
After the children are asleep, place a few pieces of candy, a simple little toy or trinket (something small like you get with a McDonald's Happy Meal), a gift certificate to their favorite fast food establishment, or similar little gift.
Keep the Celebration a Simple Part of the Christmas Season
This is not a big gift giving event. Keep it simple with the idea of simply adding a little extra cheer to the holiday season and/or breaking the daily routine in anticipation of Christmas.
You don't want anything too elaborate because, more than likely December 6th will be a school day so you don't want to delay them with elaborate gifts or celebrating.
The fun is in keeping it simple - a small and festive break in the daily routine.
Look upon this as being a little bigger than a visit from the tooth fairy, but not a major event or production like Christmas itself.
Celebrating St. Nicholas Day
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Dutch St. Nicholas Day Songs
© 2006 Chuck Nugent
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