As the holiday season gets going, many people will be starting the season with “Light Up Nights” in their communities and decorating their homes for the coming of Santa Claus. One event helps churches and communities throughout the world to kick off the holiday season.
St. Nicholas Day
Bishop St. Nicholas is celebrated by churches and communities everywhere. It is generally celebrated on the Sunday closest to Dec. 6. This year the holiday just happens to fall on that day exactly. Observances of St. Nicholas Day are prevalent in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches. However, it is not uncommon for other church communities to observe the day as well.
In some locations, St. Nicholas Day is used in a special worship, in others he is used as a special part of fellowship in the church. Some areas will have will have festivals honoring Saint Nick. In many of the festivals, St. Nicholas will even make an appearance and greet children. Oftentimes, he will give instruction and encouragement to kids as well as hand out special treats to the children in attendance.
Special Projects Inspired by St. Nicholas
Some churches and communities will use the idea of St. Nicholas to create a special Advent project to honor the saint as well as the season. St. Nicholas is known for his concern for justice and suffering.
Many fellowships will partner together to volunteer at a homeless shelter, hospital and women’s shelters to help those who are suffering or in need. Others will gather together for prayer for those in need and hold a festival whose funds will go towards local charities.
Celebrating St. Nicholas
While on Christmas Eve many families tell the story of Santa Claus, on St. Nicholas Day Eve, some families gather to tell the story of St. Nicholas. Since it is also early in Advent, many families use this time to decorate their homes for Christmas and spend time with their family and members of their church.
Families often tell stories about St. Nicholas that will help children identify kindly “Nicholas” deeds. They then have their children fill their shoes with carrots and hay to feed a horse or donkey. When the kiddies go to bed, the parents replace the carrots with a candy cane (represents St. Nick) and a small present.
Other families throw parties to celebrate the saint this weekend. Some families will gather with others in their homes Saturday night to celebrate St. Nicholas. They won’t likely be telling any stories of the great saint, but they will enjoy a holiday-themed party in honor of him.
Not Widely Celebrated in the U.S.
St. Nicholas Day is celebrated by some families in the United States, however, it is not widely celebrated in the country. However, in Northern Europe the holiday is a pretty big deal, so if you are wondering where are the festivals and other activities are, there are many just a continent away.
Ways to Celebrate
If you’d like to celebrate St. Nicholas Day, there are a ton of affordable and fun ways to celebrate the saint with your family and teach them the reason for the season.
• Make it the night you decorate the house
• Tell the story of St. Nicholas
• Identify the importance of giving with kids through a story
• Have the kids hang stockings and prepare some presents to leave them overnight
• Teach them prayers of St. Nicholas
In Milwaukee, many families will be celebrating St. Nick’s Day, but there won’t likely be a huge parade like there is for Christmas. Many families will have private celebrations like those mentioned above.