How to Celebrate a Nicholas Festival in the UK

Suggestions from Fr. Jim Rosenthal, St. Nicholas Society/UK

A celebration of the true and only Santa Claus/Father Christmas—the Bishop and Saint—NICHOLAS

A recipe for a fun learning experience for young and old, and an excellent way to open the doors of your church or organisation to the wider community, in a very non-threatening way.

Three bishops
Three bishops in Canterbury: The Bishop of Dover, St. Nicholas, the Archbishop of Canterbury
Photo: Canterbury Cathedral

What you need

Yes, another committee, with an enthusiastic leader and many workers
A person to be St Nicholas
An outfit—Cope, Miter, Crozier, Beard, Gloves, Ring, Stole inner garment such as an alb robe or cassock - these outfits should have a less than real look, and are available in Belgium and Holland, they are not cheap, but have a lasting value. Do not borrow from your local Bishop!
A throne or a large chair might do
An occasion—maybe a party with an arrival of the Saint from a hidden place, or indeed a public arrival in a garden, park, or nearby community center with a parade to the church steps (or inside) for a short program. Maybe a horse and carriage, a horse alone (be careful), float, open-air car
St Nick's Feast Day is December 6th, though people in many places begin the celebrations earlier. Later is fine as well as we are re-defining the identity of Mr Claus or Fr Christmas!
This could be part of a Christmas Market, Christkindl, St Nicholas Faire etc.
Proper advertising—don't disappoint yourselves when the crowd is small if you haven't done proper announcing—local papers, bulletins, small flyers in shops.
Gifts—giving and getting—each person could be asked to bring a gift for a needy child or a shelter . . . each child rightly deserves some gift as well (costs involved). Chocolate images of the saint are available either direct from Europe or through importers in various other places.
A program—Brief and to the point—local clergy, dignitaries, greet the saint and people sing a St Nicholas fun song like Jolly Old St Nicholas and a Hymn of the Saint's life. A prayer about the saint is said. Christmas (better yet Advent) music could be sung by a children's Choir, and someone tells a tale of the Saint, or a brief story. A Crib (creche, manger etc) should be visible and the program ends with the Saint leading the people in 'Away in A Manger', stressing the relationship of Christ-oriented Christmas to the Saint.
A charity/appeal—the sponsoring church, school, etc could designate a charity for contributions to be gathered informally at the program by children.
Visits/Depart—The Saint could greet individual children if accompanied by an adult, set guidelines ahead of time. This should appear to be as the normal visit to Santa.
St Nick must leave with some flare and notice.

From the St. Nicholas Society/UK. Used by permission.

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