It’s actually a great day to talk with the kids about who Saint Nicholas was – in many countries today there are festivals and celebrations. In some cultures, kids put their shoes next to the fire place, and today will hopefully wake up to finding small trinkets like marbles and small sacks of candy in their shoes.
The real Saint Nicholas liked to do secret gift-giving (although it’s not secret now!) and put coins in the shoes of children.
Other cultures allow neighbors to pretend to be St.Nick – they hand the neighbor a bag of presents then go inside, have family time, and wait. That night the whole family hears pounding on the door and opens the door to find that “Sinterklass” has been there (as he’s known in the Netherlands.)
Some other cultures go farther by telling children that angels and devils accompany him, and others have a belief that bad children will be carried off by one of the elves back to Spain. I rather like our American coal option, quite frankly. Less nightmares. Sheesh.
In many of these cultures, Saint Nicholas Day is more important than Christmas.
Which makes you stop and think. JellyTelly did a good job of explaining the history of Christmas to my kids. At first they were devastated by the news but it gave them a new perspective of the holiday. Check it out:
What does this all mean?
Well, for our family we’ve decided this:
To have fun with the concept of Santa Claus. We tell the children who Saint Nicholas was, and that someone in their life likes to act like their own personal Saint Nicholas. We tell them to enjoy it, and someday, their personal Santa Claus will share his or her identity.
In addition, something very wacky happens each Christmas Eve. Have you seen Disney’s Prep & Landing? Similar things have happened at our house each year. I’ll be posting some of the wackiness later this week. Who knows? Similar things might start happening at your house…
And Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth? We use it as a time to purposefully remember God’s love and his greatest gift and symbolically share our love through gifts. And we are thankful.
The kids get it. We just have to repeat all these explanations each year; because each year they have more questions, and quite frankly, so do we. And it is good.
Happy Saint Nicholas Day!