St Nicholas Day

Image from post by Vee Jay Burns
I woke this morning to find that St Nicholas hadn't filled my clogs with sweets.

It's probably my fault. I didn't put out my clogs last night.

And it was the eve of St Nicholas Day.

And I didn't leave any hay for his horse.

But I don't have any clogs. And I don't have any hay. And I'm not Dutch.

So I don't put out clogs and hay on St Nicholas' Eve.
So St Nicholas has passed me by.

It is his day today, so I'm giving a nod in his direction. It is certain that Nicholas was Bishop of Myra (then Greek, now in southern Turkey) in the 4th century. That is perhaps the only uncontested fact about him. Most of the legends about his life probably developed in the medieval period. But I think his reputation for generosity to those in need, love of children and concern for sailors may of grown from things that were true of his character and lifestyle. You can read more facts and legends about him here

J. Rosenthal and C. Myers wrote an interesting comparison between St Nicholas and Santa Claus  which I quote below:
Santa Claus belongs to childhood;
St Nicholas models for all of life. 
Santa Claus as we know him, developed to boost Christmas sales - the commercial Christmas message;
St Nicholas told the story of Chirst and peace, goodwill toward all - the hope-filled Christmas message. 
Santa Claus encourages consumption.
St Nicholas encourages compassion. 
Santa Claus appears each year to be seen and heard for a short time:
St Nicholas is part of the communion of saints, surrounding us always with prayer and example. 
Santa Claus flies through the air - from the North Pole;
St Nicholas walked the earth - caring for those in need. 
Santa Claus - for some - replaces the Babe of Bethlehem;
St Nicholas, for all, points to the Babe of Bethlehem. 
Santa Claus isn't bad;
St Nicholas is just better.
Do you celebrate St Nicholas Day with any special traditions?
If you do, I'd love to hear about them.


  1. In the Netherlands Sinta Klaas (St Nicholas) rewards good children with gifts, but there's a sting in the tail.

    If children have been naughty they can be taken away by the Saint's companion, Schwarte Piet (black Peter), a sort of imp who accompanies him, so not entirely commercial.
    I've probably misspelt everything!

  2. Ray - that tradition about naughty children is a troubling one I think, not least for its possible racist connotations. Also, having worked as a social worker in child protection when I really did have to take children away from parents and remembering how hard it is to convince a child that it was not their fault, I cringe at the idea (and the reality)of parents threatening children that they'll be "taken away" if naughty.

  3. Hi Nancy - yes we celebrate St Nicholas Day - but with our own traditions that we developed in the spirit of St Nicholas. We secretly deliver parcels of home made goodies to our neighbours doorsteps - the children get so excited and love rushing out in the dark and back again before they are seen!

    I liked your quotation - I am going to read it to the kids at the table tonight. thanks.

  4. Jo - what a lovely tradition to have developed with your children - in the spirit of St Nicholas and the Spirit of Christ. It sounds like the opposite of Halloween 'trick or treat'. Thank you for commenting - and now - Ive discovered your blog.

  5. I prefer St. Nicholas. I never celebrate it but I just might by eating a ton of chocolate before going to bed.

  6. Hope you enjoyed your chocolate Chelliah!


Post a Comment