Once upon a time there lived far away in the East a pious man, the Bishop Nicholas. One day he heard that far in the West was a big town. In this town all the people had to suffer hunger, the children also. Then Bishop Nicholas called his servants who loved him and said to them 'Bring me the fruits of your gardens and the fruits of your fields that we can still the hunger of the children in that town.' The servants brought baskets full of apples and nuts, and on top lay honey cakes which the women had baked. And the men brought sacks of wheat. Bishop Nicholas had all these things taken onto a ship. It was a beautiful ship, quite white and the sails of the ship were as blue as the sky and as blue as the mantle of the Bishop Nicholas. The wind blew into the sails and sped the ship along, And when the wind grew tired the servants took to the oars and rowed the ship westward. They had to sail for a longtime; for seven days and seven nights.
Postcard from Italy
St Nicholas Center Collection
When they arrived in front of the big town it was evening. The roads were empty, but in the houses there burnt lights. Bishop Nicholas knocked at a window. The mother in the house thought a late wanderer had come and she asked her child to open the door. Nobody was outside. The child ran to the window. There was nobody outside the window either. But instead, there stood a basket filled with apples and nuts, red and yellow, and a honey cake lay on top. By the basket stood a sack which was bursting with golden wheat grains. All the people ate the gifts and once again became healthy and happy.
Today St. Nicholas is in the heavens. Every year on his birthday he starts on his journey down to the earth. He asks for his white horse and journeys from star to star. There he meets Mother Mary, who gathers silver and golden threads for the shift of the Christ Child. Mother Mary says to him: "Dear St. Nicholas please go again to the children and bring them your gifts. Tell them, 'Christmas is nigh and soon the Christ Child will come.'"
The earth is wide and great. There, where St. Nicholas cannot go himself, he asks a good and pious person to go to the children and take them apples and nuts and tell the children of the coming of the Christ Child.
By Margaret Meyerkort, Wynstones School, Whaddon, Gloucester, UK., from Winter: A collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for young children, Jennifer Aulie and Margaret Meyerkort, eds, copyright © 1978, 1983, 1999, reprinted 2005 Wynstones Press. Used by permission.