Glossary

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

Ascesis

Rigorous self-discipline, especially as a religious observance; asceticism

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

Attic Greek
Greek dialect of ancient city-state Athens
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

Banket

Dutch almond-filled pastry

Bari

City in southeast Italy; St. Nicholas relics were taken there in 1087

Barter

Exchange goods or services for other goods or services without using money

Basilica

A church with a privileged canonical status granted by the Pope or of a particular architectural style

Batiushka

Familiar form of address for a Russian Orthodox priest

Bespoke

Custom-made

BHG
Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca: catalogue of Greek hagiographic materials, including ancient literary works on the saints’ lives, the translations of their relics, and their miracles; abbreviated as BHG
Bien-pensant

A right-thinking or orthodox person

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

Bruschetta
an Italian antipasto (starter dish) consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt; toppings may include tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat, or cheese. Tomato is most often used.
Byzantium

The city on the Bosporus before it became known as Contstantinople in AD 330, during the reign of Constantine the Great

Calabria

a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, the “toe” of the Italian peninsula

Cambuur

SC Cambuur, a Dutch football club from Leeuwarden

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;
or church law or rules;
or structured hymn used in Eastern Orthodox services with nine odes based on Biblical canticles; each canon has a specific theme or honors a particular saint
Canon law

the laws and regulations for the government of a church and its members

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

Christkindlmarkt

European Christmas market, usually outdoors with small wooden market stalls

Christkind or Christkindl

Christ Child, the traditional gift-bringer in all or parts of Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary, France, Upper-Silesia in Poland, and parts of Hispanic America. Known as “Gesù Bambino” in Italy, “Menino Jesus” in Portugal, “”Jézuska” in Hungary, “Jeziš” in Slovakia, “Jezišek” in Czech, “Niño Dios” in Latin America, and “Isusic” in Croatia.

\r\nMartin Luther introduced the Christkind to discourage St. Nicholas at the time of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. This changed the gift-giving date from December 6 to Christmas Eve. Catholic areas adopted the Christkind in the 19th century while the more secularized figure of “Weihnachtsmann” (Christmas Man, Father Christmas, Santa Claus) gained ground in Protestant regions.

\r\nThe Christkind doesn’t look like the Christ Child, rather like a sprite-like child with blond hair and angel wings. Christkind comes in secret; children do not see this figure.

Christology

Theological study of the nature of Jesus the Christ, especially how the divine and human relate to his person

Chrysobull

A decree issued by Byzantine Emperors and later European monarchs during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, especially by the Holy Roman Emperors. Also known as a golden bull for the golden seal attached to the decree.

Cincture

Liturgical vestment that goes around or above the waist, either a rope girdle or a broad sash (“fascia” in the Roman Catholic Church) worn over the cassock.

Concision

Archaic, mutilation

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
Dalmatia

is one of the four historical regions of Croatia, a narrow belt along the east shore of the Adriatic Sea, stretching from island of Rab in the north to the Bay of Kotor in the south.

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; dower, to give a dowry
Ecumenical

Encouraging Christian unity among all churches

Eheu

Alas! or Ah!

eigenwijs-ness

Desire to be against something just because someone tells you you should do it

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

Faldstool

Folding chair used by a bishop when not using the throne, or when officiating in a church other than his own

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.

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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.

\r\n

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.

\r\n

—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.

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

Greek Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches that use the Byzantine liturgy and are in communion with the Holy See in Rome; also known as Eastern-Rite, Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Byzantine Catholic, or Oriental Catholic churches. These twenty-three church bodies follow the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and are headed by patriarchs, metropolitans and major archbishops.
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

Hight

being called or named (archaic)

Hogshead

a large cask or barrel

Homoioousios

of similar substance (Arius’ position that Jesus was just “similar” top God, special, but just human and not God

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

Hypostatic

Personal, relating to the persons of the Trinity

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)

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.
\r\n\r\n 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.
\r\n\r\n 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.

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.

Industrial Revolution
began in the 18th century when agricultural societies became more industrial and urban. In the US this was from 1790 until 1820 or 1840. Machine production, new chemical and iron production processes, steam power, machine tools, and the rise of the factory system were all introduced and expanded during this time.
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.

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 1:1–3

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 1:14

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 1:4,5

… 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.”

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

KOZP

The Stop Blackface movement: Kick Out Zwarte Piet

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

Lampada

Oil lamp hanging before an icon

Laos

The people of God; Greek, particularly God’s chosen people, first the Jews, then the Christians; the root of the term “laity”

Lauds

In Eastern Orthodox tradition the Lauds are part of the early morning service of Matins

Liegeman

Devoted follower or loyal subject

Litya

The hymns and prayers for all Orthodox great feasts, most major feasts, and all Sundays. The blessing of bred, wheat, wine, and oil associated with the litya takes place later in vespers. Also, lity.

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 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,
\r\n “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
\r\n 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 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 2:1–6

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

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.

Mahometan

Believer or adherent of Islam; Muslim; term formerly in Western usage, never used among Muslims

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.”
\r\n 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

Montes Pietatius

Charitable credit institutions that lend money at low rates of interest, or none at all, on the security of objects left in pawn, to protect people in need from usurers. Being charitable, they lend only to people who are in need of funds for a financial crisis, such as needing food, or other misfortune.

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

Mystikos

title bestowed by Byzantine emperor, probably meaning private secretary or personal consultant

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 or Youth 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

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

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

Pakjesavond

Package evening or gift night, December 5, Sinterklaas Eve; primary Dutch family Sinterklaas celebration

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

Patten

Protective overshoe with a wooden sole and held in place with leather or cloth bands;
worn until the early 20th century

Pegida

Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, is a German nationalist, anti-Islam, far-right political movement.

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

Perchta

Rooted in pagan traditions in the Austrian Alps, these creatures roam the mountains, protecting good people from evil spirits and punishing those who are not-so-good. Originally Frau Perchta, the name, Perchta, has come to represent the entourage, dressed in frightening masks. In Italy Perchta visits children on the eve of Epiphany, January 6, to fill stockings with candy or coal.

Pheidippides

Athenian athlete, who ran to Sparta to seek help against the Persians before the Battle of Marathon (490 BC); he is said to have covered the 250 km (150 miles) in two days on foot and was the inspiration for a modern sporting event, the marathon.

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

Polovtsi

Nomadic East Turkic people who came from northwest Asian Russia, conquering south Russia and Walachia in the 11th century. For nearly two centuries they fought with the Byzantine Empire, Hungary, and Kiev. They founded a nomadic state in the steppes along the Black Sea. They were defeated by Eastern Slavs in the early 1100s and by the Mongols around 1245. Also known as Cumans or Kumans.\r\n

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

PSV

PSV Eindhoven (Philips Sport Vereniging) is the major football (soccer) club in Eindhoven

Puritans

Group of strict Protestants formed in England in the 16th century; outlawed Christmas celebrations in England and New England

Quire

Place where the choir sings

Raki

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

\r\nAlbanian 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

Rotulus
A roll of parchment or papyrus, to write on to make a permanent record
Runic Letter

any character from an ancient Germanic alphabet used from the 3rd century to the Middle Ages; each rune had a magical significance

Rus'

or Ruthenian. People or regions from the Kievan Rus’ territories that are now in Belarus, Northern Ukraine, and European Russia.

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

Schoorsteen

Chimney, as Chimney Piet, with soot marks on face

See

Bishop´s place of authority or jurisdiction

Seljuks

Turkish dynasties that controlled large parts of Asia from the 11th to the 13th centuries

Shofar

an ancient musical horn, usually made from a ram’s horn; all pitch control is done by the player’s embouchure. The shofar, used particularly for Jewish religious purposes, is blown in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah, at the end of Yom Kippur, and every weekday morning in the month of Elul running up to Rosh Hashanah.

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

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

Sint-Niklaas

Town in East Flanders, named for St. Nicholas

Sint Nikolasskerk

Saint Nicholas Church

Skoufia
Soft cap worn by Orthodox priests, aka skufia
Slava

unique Serbian Orthodox religious tradition, a family thanksgiving festival celebrating its patron saint

Slivovitz

fruit brandy made from Damson plums, often called plum brandy

Sobor
an ecclesiastical synod, council, or assembly of the Eastern Orthodox Church
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

Stade
Greek unit of measurement, the distance covered in the original Greek footraces; about 600 feet or 180 metres
Starving

Suffering from a lack of food

St. Catherine

Catherine of Siena, noted for her generosity in giving away food and clothing, has been a gift-giver in parts of Spain. However, the Three Kings are the primary gift-givers, bringing gifts on Epiphany, January 6th.

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

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

Taai-taai

Tough anise flavored Dutch cookies, often in small shapes; popular for Sinterklaas; taai-taai dough may also be used to make pepernoten

Tante Arie

The traditional gift-giver in Montbéllard county, Franche-Comté, France. The legendary reincarnation of the heiress Countess Henriette de Montbéllard, dresses as a peasant, comes from the mountains with a donkey, bringing Christmas gifts to good children and dunce caps to naughty ones.

Temenos

A temple enclosure or court; consecrated area or sacred precinct

The Holy Father
title for the Pope, the supreme pontiff is the Bishop of Rome and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church

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

Venerate

To hold in reverent or worshipful respect

Verst

A Russian measure of linear distance equal to about two-thirds of a mile

Verst

Russian length measurement; about 0.66 mile / 1.1 kilometer

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

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

Zephyr

a soft gentle breeze

Zucchetto

Small, round form-fitting ecclesiastical skullcap worn by some clergy

Zwarte

Dutch for “black”

Zwarte Piet

Dutch name for the Moorish helper who travels with St. Nicholas; Black Peter

Zwieback

a form of rusk; a type of crisp, sweetened bread, made with eggs and baked twice. It originated in East Prussia. It is sliced before it is baked a second time, which produces crisp, brittle slices that closely resemble melba toast.