Celebrate At Home

Dutch Postcard
Dutch Postcard
St Nicholas Center Collection

A simple St. Nicholas Day celebration adds a bit of welcome festivity in the early days of Advent. It provides an opportunity to tell the story of St. Nicholas, a man of faith whose goodness and generosity grew out of his love for God. It enriches our understanding of Santa Claus by showing the real historical person who inspired the familiar legend and traditions.

So tell a story of St. Nicholas' generous example of giving in secret to those in need. Then encourage children to identify a kindly "Nicholas deed" to do for someone else. Have children fill their shoes with pieces of carrot or bits of hay for his white horse or donkey. Place shoes outside bedroom doors or on the hearth. See that a candy treat (a candy cane represents Bishop Nicholas' crozier) and simple gift appears by morning on December 6th.

Have a party. The Dutch give simple gifts accompanied with elaborate rhyming texts that may be riddles or satirical poems commenting on the recipient's behavior and/or wrapped in fantastically deceiving ways, such as a pen inside a hollowed out carrot or something small nested inside multiple boxes and wrappings.

Ideas FROM Families

In other sections

Ideas for Saint Nicholas shoe treats
Coins for St. Nicholas Day: St. Nicholas Teaches about Money
Resources for Celebrating St. Nicholas
Resources for Celebrating the Church Year in the Home


Do you believe in Santa Claus?
some thoughts on talking to children about Santa
The Truth About Santa, New York Times Room for Debate
suggestions for families from a variety of perspectives
3-Minute St. Nicholas Retreat from Loyola Press
The Joyful Ways This Atlanta Family Celebrates St. Nicholas Day from Better Homes & Gardens
Teaching our kids the holiday spirit by having them take a turn as Santa from The Washington Post
And these nighttime excursions are our way of paying homage to a Christmas legend. We have explained that “Santa Claus” is slang for Saint Nicholas — a real guy who loved children and shared his riches with the less fortunate. They understand he lived in another place and time, and that he protected the sick and suffering. Over time, we hope the boys will remain eager to follow this lead, putting together Christmas packages for friends, family members and those in need.

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