St. Nicholas

Pin it

Add to Symbaloo

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Pinterest

Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T V W Z

Père Fouettard
Hooded figure who goes about with St. Nicholas in France; said to be the evil butcher in the story of the three children

back to top

A
Abbess
A woman who is the head of a religious community (convent)
Abbot
A man who is the head of a religious community (monastery)
Abjure
Renounce under oath, recant
Advent
Four weeks of preparation before Christmas; 1st season of the church year & begins four Sundays before Christmas; called Nativity Lent in Eastern tradition & begins November 15
Aillas
A Quechua word meaning victory, victory
Akathist
A chanted liturgy dedicated to a saint, holy event, or one of the persons of the Holy Trinity
Alsace
Northeastern region of France, borders on Germany
Ambo
a pulpit or raised reading stand
Analogion
Lectern or slanted stand for icons to be venerated the Eastern Orthodox and Byhzantine Catholic Churches
Anathema
Formal ecclesiastical ban or curse
Anatolia
Region that is now the Asian portion of modern Turkey
Anatolian
of or pertaining to Anatolia: Asia Minor; now the western two-thirds of Turkey
Andriaki
Port to the city of Myra in Bishop Nicholas' time
Antidora
gift given in return
Antidoron
Ordinary leavened bread, blessed but not consecrated; distributed following Divine Liturgy in Orthodox tradition
Apollinarian
Person following Apollinarius, whose false teaching was declared heresy in the 4th century
Apulia
Region in southeastern Italy, Bari is the capital
Arius
Early Christian theologian; taught that Jesus (Son of God) was subordinate to God the Father, not co-eternal; this Arianism was declared heresy at the Council of Nicaea
Artemis
Ancient Greek goddess, twin sister of Apollo, prominent in Asia Minor where she was seen primarily as a fertility goddess; identified with Roman goddess Diana
Ascesis
practice of strict self-discipline, especially for religious reasons
Asia Minor
Large peninsula between the Mediterranean and Black Seas; includes most of Turkey; Asia Minor is where St. Nicholas lived, seven centuries before Turks came to the area
Asperges
Act of sprinkling with holy water
Athanasius
Theologian and later Patriarch of Alexandria; attended Council of Nicaea as a deacon where he defended doctrine that Christ is the same substance as God the Father against the Arian heresy
Augustine of Hippo
Philosopher and theologian, known as Doctor of Grace, established the concepts of original sin and just war; patron of the Augustinian Order and his Confessions are the among the earliest writings on spirituality
Axios
"[he is] worthy;" an acclamation made by the faithful at the ordination of bishops, priests and deacons in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches

back to top

B
Banket
Dutch almond-filled pastry
Bari
City in southeast Italy; St. Nicholas relics were taken there in 1087
Basilica
A church with a privileged canonical status granted by the Pope or of a particular architectural style
Bespoke
Custom-made
Bishop
The highest order of ministry; supervises a number of local churches; guards the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole church
Bishopric
Office or rank of a bishop
Black Fast
The most rigorous form of fasting, allowing only one meal, taken after sunset, with no meat, eggs, butter cheese, milk, nor wine
Black Peter
Comes with St. Nicholas in the Netherlands, a Moor from Africa; Zwarte Piet
Bona Sforza (1494-1557)
Bona Sforza was from the Milanese House of Sforza; she was Duchess of Bari and Princess of Rossano. After her marriage to Sigismund I the Old, she became Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania. When she was widowed she returned to her native Bari and is buried in the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari.
Boy Bishop
Custom of electing a Boy Bishop on St. Nicholas Day; widespread in Europe in the Middle Ages, especially popular in England; carried out duties until the Holy Innocents Day, Dec 28
Brittany
Most western region of France
Byzantium
The city on the Bosporus before it became known as Contstantinople in AD 330, during the reign of Constantine the Great

back to top

C
Calabria
a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, the "toe" of the Italian peninsula
Canon
Clergy person connected to a cathedral chapter, may be honorary; or, by example, modeling a virtue, i.e., Nicholas, a canon, or measure, of faith; church law or rules
Cellarer
The person in a monastic community who is responsible for the supply of food and drink
Chalcedon
Fourth ecumenical council that described the full humanity and divinity of Jesus
Chalice
Cup used in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper
Chasuble
Outer poncho-like garment, worn by the priest or minister serving as celebrant at Holy Communion/Eucharist
Child or Youth Bishop
Custom of electing a Boy Bishop on St. Nicholas Day; widespread in Europe in the Middle Ages, especially popular in England; carried out duties until the Holy Innocents Day, Dec 28; modern revival of the custom is often for a child or youth bishop
Christkindl
Christ Child who brings gifts in Germany and Austria
Christkindlmarkt
European Christmas market, usually outdoors with small wooden market stalls
Christology
Theological study of the nature of Jesus the Christ, especially how the divine and human relate to his person
Constantine
Roman Emperor from AD 306-337; his Edict of Milan, 313, fully legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire
Constantinople
Capital of the Roman Empire under Constantine; now Istanbul
Convent
Place where a community of nuns lives
Convoke
call together; summon
Cope
Cloak-like garment, or cape, worn by bishops and clergy in procession or for other formal events
Council of Nicaea
First Ecumenical Council, AD 325; called to preserve unity of the church which was threatened by competing claims about the nature of Jesus Christ
Crete
Largest Greek island and the 5th largest island in the Mediterranean Sea
Crozier
Bishop's gold-colored staff, shaped like a shepherd's crook; symbol of office showing that, like the Good Shepherd, bishops are spiritual shepherds to the people; also crosier
Crypt
Underground room beneath the main floor of a church; used as chapel or burial place
Cuirass
piece of armour covering the front of the torso, generally connected to a back piece; cuirass may refer to both pieces, the complete torso armour
Czar
The emperor or ruler of Russia before 1917
Czars
the emperor or ruler of Russia before 1917

back to top

D
Dean
Clergy person with responsibility for the property and adminisration of a cathedral
Deity
A god or goddess
Demre
Modern name for the city of Myra in Turkey
Diocese
District or churches under the authority of a bishop
Diocletian
Roman Emperor from AD 284-305; persecuted Christians
Diskos
Usually a small plate to hold bread on the altar for Divine Liturgy or Eucharist; paten
Dodecanese
Group of 12 larger and 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea; the 12 are Rhodes, Kos, Patmos, Astipalea, Kalimnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos and Kastellorizo.
Dowry
Money or property a woman brings to marriage; such payment was necessary in order to marry in the ancient world

back to top

E
Ecumenical
Encouraging Christian unity among all churches
Elision
Omitting something
Encomium
Latin meaning praise of a person or thing; A five-part genre with prologue, birth and upbringing, acts of the person's life, comparisons to praise the subject, and epilogue
Engolpion
Medallion with an icon in the center worn by an Orthodox bishop
Epitrachelion
the stole worn by Orthodox and Eastern Catholic priests and bishops as the symbol of their priesthood
Ex-voto
An object or painting left in gratitude as testimony for protection received, not as intercession for future aid

back to top

F
Famine
a severe lack of food, causing hunger, starvation, and death
Feast Day
Commemorates a saint's birth into life eternal (earthly death date); any religious festival
Flanders
Northern Dutch-speaking part of Belgium
Forerunner
John the Baptist
Full text

There were 400 Christians living in Myra. There were no Turks. The main activities were in trade and agriculture. Everyone in Myra originated from Castellorizo. They had come to Myra to find better opportunities. The language spoken was identical to the Castellorizian idiom.

Myra was about 1 hour's walk from the sea. It lies on a fertile plain. Before arriving in Myra from the coast one crosses this beautiful plain irrigated by three rivers—the Tsaï, or Myros, the Anthami, and the Limnionas or Vromolimnionas.

Outside the town, there were no roads, only this broad plain. In the town, there were no mahaladhes. We knew exactly where everyone lived.

All the roads radiated out from the central crossroads in the middle of the town. These 2 main roads had been built by the Russians in my grandfather's time, in about 1830. There was only 1 square—Plateia ton Myron—which had shops, 3 cafes and a market.

There were 2 churches in Myra—Ayios Nikolaos, where the saint's tomb is to be found, and Ayios Sion, which was a subterranean chapel.

Ayios Nikolaos is located 1 kilometre from the centre of the town. It was built by Theodosius II. The town's cemetery was located here.

There was also a small primary school that catered for about 30 students up to year 4. After 4th class, we completed our studies on Castellorizo.

I remember that the mouhtar was chosen from the Christian population. I recall 2 names: Yiorgios Marsélos and Yiorgios Paltóglou. The office of the mouhtar was in his home—it is there that he received people. The mouhtar had to be over 40 years of age and he also had to be fluent in Turkish to be selected.

I worked with the abbot of the monastery which was attached to Ayios Nikolaos. I remember Kyrillos Romanos, who was the last abbot.

I left Myra in 1914 to avoid conscription in the War. The Turks tried to get all the young Christians in the Ottoman army. My parents sent all the male children to Castellorizo. I went and stayed there—my family owned 3 houses. The Turks punished my family. My father became sick. They brought him to Castellorizo, but he didn't improve. He was taken to Athens, but died there.

The War closed all the ports. The Turks had their eyes on our properties. They secretly placed all these weapons in our well and then accused my mother of storing them there to help the French who were occupying Castellorizo. They arrested her and sent her to Aidin where she was imprisoned. I eventually arranged for her release.

I stayed in Castellorizo for the remainder of the War. After hostilities ended, I returned to Myra and found our house in ruins. I was called to the office of the Turkish military commander and told to leave Turkish soil in 4 days. I was told to take a small Turkish rowboat and leave. As I was sailing back to Castellorizo, they started firing at me. I realized that they wanted to kill me.

—Vlassios Antonas (interviewed 15 October 1970), Reminiscences of Antifilo and Myra extracted from the archives of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies, Athens, on 24 November 1998.

back to top

G
Galatians 4:4–5
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.
Galerius
Roman Emperor from AD 305-311;
began Christian persecution under Diocletian in 303; cancelled perscutions in 311 with the general edict of toleration, confirmed with Licinius & Constantine
Gekleurde
Dutch for "colored"
Gnostic
Person who believes the knowledge of God is enabled by secret teachings
Gnosticism
In the time of the early church a way of thinking that rejected understanding the nature of Christ as established by the First Ecumenical Council

back to top

H
Hagiography
Idealized, may be somewhat stylized, biography of a saint
Heresiarch
leader of a heretical (non-orthodox) doctrine or movement
Hierarch
One who has a high position of pastoral and governmental authority in the Eastern Church; patriarch or metropolitan
Hogshead
a large cask or barrel
Homoousios
Greek word meaning same substance or same essence, used by the First Ecumenical Council to say that Jesus Christ is, in the words of the Nicene Creed, of one Being with the Father
Hoofdpiet
Head Piet in charge of all the other helpers (Pieten)
Hypostasis
Attributes of a particular person

back to top

I
I Corinthians 13:1–13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
     Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
     Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Icon
Stylized image of Christ, the Virgin, or saints, for devotional use in church or home; a window into heaven; present in Eastern Rite churches since the 6th century
Iconoclast
A person who destroys images used in worship
Iconostas
Screen with doors and rows of icons, separates the bema (altar area) from the nave (place where the congregation worships)
Iffele
Iffele are giant miter-like headgear worn in St. Nicholas processions in various cities and towns in Switzerland. The word, "iffele," is a vernacular derivative of the word "miter," a bishop's headgear. Iffelen is the plural form.
Intocht
Entry; Dutch term for Sinterklaas' entry or arrival in mid-November
Irving, Washington
Early American writer (1783-1859); source of Dutch-American St. Nicholas legends
Isaiah 40:3–5
A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
Isaiah 9:2
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.
Isaiah 9:6
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:7
His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

back to top

J
James 1:17
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Jessamine
Either a variant of jasmine or a common name for Cestrum nocturnum, a sweet-smelling, night-blooming plant
John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1–3
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
John 1:4,5
. . . in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."

back to top

K
Karyes
The largest settlement in Mount Athos; seat of the clerical and secular administration of Mount Athos
Kathismata
A division of the Psalter
Katholicon or Katholikon
The main temple (church building) of an Eastern Orthodox monastery or diocese
Knecht Ruprecht
St. Nicholas' helper in Germany; originally a farm servant
Komsomol
Youth division of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; Young Communist League
Krampus
Frightening figure, dressed in fur, with horns and chains, who comes with St. Nicholas in Austria
Kruidnoten
Small round crisp Dutch cookies, similar to pepernoten, but more tender and without anise

back to top

L
Lampada
Oil lamp hanging before an icon
Lauds
In Eastern Orthodox tradition the Lauds are part of the early morning service of Matins
Liegeman
Devoted follower or loyal subject
Livingston, Henry
Poet, among other things, from Poughkeepsie, New York; some scholars believe he was the author of &A; Visit from St. Nicholas" ("'Twas the Night Before Christmas")
Logos
Greek for word; symbol for Christ, the Word made flesh
Lorraine
Region in northeast France, borders on Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany
Luke 1:1–4
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
Luke 1:26–31
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus."
Luke 1:32,33
"He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
Luke 1:46–55
And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
Luke 21:28–31
"Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near."
Luke 2:15–20
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us" So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:1–20
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
     "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"
     When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:1–6
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.
Luke 2:7
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2:8–14
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"
Luke 7:18–20
The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" When the men had come to him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?'"
Lycia
Roman province in Asia Minor, along what is now the southern coast of Turkey

back to top

M
Mace
A ceremonial staff carried as a symbol of office
Magna Graecia
Coastal areas of Southern Italy extensively colonized by Greeks, beginning in the 8th century BC; from the 5th to the 10th century many Byzantine Christian Greeks came to Southern Italy from Greece and Asia Minor.
Mahaladhes
Distinct hamlets, often scattered with different family groups, making up one larger entity or town. Saying there were no "mahaladhes" in Myra would mean there weren't competing divisions.
Manna
"Manna of Saint Nicholas" is pure water formed in the tomb of the Saint; it formed in the tomb in Myra and has continued to do so in Bari, Italy; formerly called "oil"; "Myron"or "Miro" in Eastern tradition
Marshall Plan
The large-scale American reconstruction program to help Europe rebuild after the end of World War II
Martyrion
A church or other edifice built at a tomb associated with a Christian martyr or saint; a place where relics are kept
massa damnata
The damned masses; all are condemned and need grace
Matins
The first prayer service of the day, often at daybreak
Matthew 2:1–12
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel."
     Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Matthew 3:1,2
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
Matushka
Priest's wife
Mazy
labyrinthine, as like a maze
Menologium
Office book in the Eastern Church organized by date and containing the commemoration and lives of saints, with or without liturgical material
Metochion
Parish church or monastery that is dependent on a particular monastery for blessing and support
Metropolitan
In Eastern Orthodox tradtion, the head of an ecclesiastical province, larger than a diocese, an archbishop
Miter
Bishop's hat; tall and pointed in the Western Church; rounded like a turban with a cross on top in the Eastern Church; also mitre
Moleben
An Orthodox service of intercession or supplication in honor of Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, or a particular saint or martyr
Moor
Member of a northwestern African Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab descent; they conquered the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century and were driven out at the end of the 15th century
Moore, Clement Clark
Clark Professor at the Episcopal General Theological Seminary in New York; commonly believed to have written "A Visit From St. Nicholas", or "Twas the Night Before Christmas"
Myra
City on the southern Mediterranean seacoast of what is now Turkey; the place where St. Nicholas served as bishop

back to top

N
Name Day
Particular day associated with a given name, especially a saint's name celebrated on the saint's feast day
Nast, Thomas
Illustrator and cartoonist; drawings in Harper's Weekly from 1863-1888 strongly influenced the American Santa image
Nativity Fast
Forty day period before the Nativity Feast (Christmas) as observed in Eastern churches
Nativity Lent
Period of preparation for Christmas, 15 November through 24 December, in the Eastern church; Advent in the Western church begins four Sundays before Christmas
New Amsterdam
Colonial Dutch town on Manhattan, capital of New Netherland; renamed New York
New Netherland
North American Dutch colony along the Hudson and lower Delaware rivers; taken over by England in 1669
Nicaea
ancient city in Asia Minor; first Ecumenical Council held there, leading to adoption of the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
Widely recognized statement of faith in the Christian church; used every Sunday in several traditions; incorporates essential clauses from the Council of Nicaea (AD 325)
Nicholas Bishop
Another term for Boy Bishop
Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Northwestern region of France, borders on Belgium; known as French Flanders
Novena
A special prayer to be offered on nine consecutive days or a cycle of prayers for nine days; a St. Nicholas novena would often begin November 28th and last until December 6th, St. Nicholas Day
Nun
A woman who belongs to a religious order and lives under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience
Nuncio
Ecclesiastical envoy; messenger

back to top

O
O Antiphons
The "O Antiphons" are Magnificat antiphons (responsory chant following the Song of Mary) used the last seven days of Advent (December 17-23) in Western Christian traditions. They are called "O Antiphons" because the title of each one begins with "O." Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his scriptural attributes: Wisdom, Lord, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King, Emmanuel-God with us. The O Antiphons form the 7 stanzas of the Advent hymn, "O Come, O come, Emanuel."
Oka
A unit of weight, about 2.75 pounds
Omophorion
Liturgical stole, marked with crosses, worn by bishops in the Eastern Church, also known as pallium
Origen
Theologian in the 3rd century who developed his own theory of the Trinity
Ottoman Empire
Turkish state (1350-1918), largest and most influential Muslim empire; at its height under Suleiman the Magnificent (16th century), it stretched from the Persian Gulf to Hungary and from Egypt to the Caucasus
Ousia
Essence, such as human or divine
Oxford Movement
Movement by High Church Anglicans in the mid-19th century to reinstate lost Christian traditions and to include them in Anglican liturgy and theology; later known as Anglo-Catholics

back to top

P
Père Fouettard
Hooded figure who goes about with St. Nicholas in France; said to be the evil butcher in the story of the three children
Pallium
Liturgical stole worn by bishops in the Eastern Church, also omophorion
Panachida
Lturgical memorial for those who have died
Panagia
1) Bread which is solemnly blessed in honor of the Theotokos during the Divine Liturgy; 2) A particular type of icon of the Theotokos; 3) One of the titles of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Orthodox Christianity
Pantheon
All the gods of a particular belief system, taken together
Paraklesis
A service in the Eastern Church tradition asking for God's help
Pascha
Another name for Easter, the Feast of Christ's Ressurection
Pashmina
A shawl made from pashmina, fine woolen fabric made from Himalayan goats; cashmere
Patara
Birthplace of St. Nicholas, city west of Myra (now Demre, Turkey)
Patina
Paten, plate used for bread used in the sacrament of the Eucharist
Patriarch
Bishop with authority over other bishops; archbishop; Orthodox patriarchs are now in Constantinople (Istanbul), Antioch, Alexandria, Moscow, & Jerusalem
Patron Saint
The saint who is the special protector of a person, group, or place
Pelagius
Monk who denied the doctrine of original sin and was declared a heretic
pelf
Money, riches
Pepernoten
Small hard spiced cookies; gingernuts; Dutch, Flemish, German; Dutch pepernoten are often tough and flavored with anise
Philoptochos
The largest organization of Greek Orthodox women; it functions at the local, archdiocesan and international level, supporting many charities and spiritually enriching its members
Phrygia
Ancient country in Asia Minor, located in the west Anatolian plateau, now in Turkey
Physis
Greek term meaning nature or natural way of being
Pieten or Piets
Sinterklaas helpers in the Netherlands
Pilgrim
A person who makes a long journey to a sacred place out of religious devotion
Pilgrimage
A journey made to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion
Pontifical
Relating to a bishop; a bishop´s formal garments or robes
Post and Paire
a card game
Pother
A choking or suffocating cloud, as of smoke or dust
Praeses
Title of provincial governor in the late 2nd century and 3rd century Roman Empire
Prebends
A sum of money; stipend
Precentor
Clergy person responible for music and liturgy in Anglican churches
Prefect
Title of many high officials in the Roman Empire
Prosopon
A particular individual
Puritans
Group of strict Protestants formed in England in the 16th century; outlawed Christmas celebrations in England and New England

back to top

Q
Quire
Place where the choir sings

back to top

R
Raki
A non-sweet, anise-flavored alcoholic beverage popular in Turkey, Bosnia and throughout the Balkans as an apértif

Albanian raki is a non-sweet, fruit-flavored spirit commonly made fermented and distilled fruit, particularly grapes and plums, and infused with apple tree leaves
Rector
In Roman Catholic and Anglican usage, a priest in charge of a religious house, college or congregation
Recusant
Those who refused to attend Anglican services in England and Wales during the period from 1590 to 1650. The term first applied to Roman Catholics and was later expanded to other Protestants who dissented from the Church of England. The recusancy laws, that provided for civil and criminal penalties of fines, property confiscation and imprisonment and even execution, were repealed in 1650 though restrictions against Roman Catholics remained until 1829.
Redact
to put in writing
Refection
Refreshment, taking food and drink together
Reformation
Religious movement in the 16th century which led to Protestant churches being established
Reft
To take away; to rob
Relic
Something remaining as a memorial to a saint, often part of the body or clothing
Reliquary
Container for sacred objects or relics
Runic Letter
any character from an ancient Germanic alphabet used from the 3rd century to the Middle Ages; each rune had a magical significance

back to top

S
Sabellius
Third century theologian who taught there was one God, shown in three different modes (modalism), rather than three persons in one
Sacristan
Person responsible for sacred objects in a church
Saint
A person who lived a life devoted to God; a worthy example of holiness, virtue, or kindness and charity; someone who lets God's love shine through them to the world
Saint-Nicolas-de-Port
French town named for St. Nicholas; home of a large basilica dedicated to St. Nicholas
Samichlaus
Swiss St. Nicholas
San Francisco Solano
St. Francis Solanus, a Franciscan missionary to present day NW Argentina and Paraguay (1589-1609). He quickly learned many of the region's native languages.
Saracens
Nomadic people who lived in the Syrian and Arabian deserts
Sarcophagus
stone coffin
Scarify
To puncture and scar the skin; scourge; lacerate
Schmutzli
Figure in brown hooded cloak; two of them travel with St. Nicholas in Switzerland
See
Bishop´s place of authority or jurisdiction
Seljuks
Turkish dynasties that controlled large parts of Asia from the 11th to the 13th centuries
Shrine
Place devoted to a saint or holy person; place of pilgrimage
Sigismund I the Old
King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1506-1548
Sint
Short name for Dutch Sinterklaas
Sint Nikolasskerk
Saint Nicholas Church
Sint-Niklaas
Town in East Flanders, named for St. Nicholas
Sinterklaas
Dutch name for St. Nicholas
Sinterklaas Eve
December 5
Sinterklaas Season
Mid-November, when Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands, until 5 December, the night of Sinterklaas Eve parties
Skoufia
Soft cap worn by Orthodox priests
Slava
unique Serbian Orthodox religious tradition, a family thanksgiving festival celebrating its patron saint
Sous
Small French coins; equal to a nickel
Sovereign
Gold coin, once worth a British pound
Speculaas
Dutch spiced cookies, often made in the shape of Sinterklaas, traditionally served on St. Nicholas Day
Speculatius
German molded spiced cookies
Speculoos
Belgian molded spiced cookies
St. Martin's Day
November 11; Sinterklaas official entry in the Netherlands is on the Saturday following St. Martin's Day, making it November 12th to 18th
St. Nicholas Day
December 6 or, on the Julian Calendar, December 19
St. Nicholas Eve
December 5, the eve of the feast day, December 6th
Starving
Suffering from a lack of food
Sundblom, Haddon
His annual illustrations from 1931-1964 for Coca-Cola created the familiar American Santa Claus: life-size, jovial, in a white fur-trimmed red suit
swythe
quickly
Synaxarion
The classic, abridged, collection of the lives of the saints, for reading in public worship and private devotion

back to top

T
Taai-taai
Tough anise flavored Dutch cookies, often in small shapes; popular for Sinterklaas; taai-taai dough may also be used to make pepernoten
The Holy See
the See of Rome, the episcopal jurisdiction (central government) of the Catholic Church in Rome
Theotokos
Greek word meaning God-bearer or Mother of God
Tinkunaco
Quechua word meaning "meeting, merge, mix" or reconciliation
Tonsure
Rite of shaving the crown of the head when a person joins a monastic order; symbolizes new identity as a monk
Translation
Removal of holy objects (such as relics) from one place to another

back to top

V
Venerate
To hold in reverent or worshipful respect
Verst
A Russian measure of linear distance equal to about two-thirds of a mile
Vestments
Distinctive or offical clothing worn when leading Christian religious services; liturgical garments
Vladika
A prince-bishop
Vladimir I
Brought Christianity and St. Nicholas to Kiev in AD 987

back to top

W
Wallachia
Historical and geographical region of Romania
Whitsunday
Penteost
Wonderworker
Term for an Orthodox saint who works miracles; frequently used to identify St. Nicholas
Wroth
Vehemently angry; incensed

back to top

Z
Zephyr
a soft gentle breeze
Zwarte
Dutch for "black"
Zwarte Piet
Dutch name for the Moorish helper who travels with St. Nicholas; Black Peter

back to top