St. Nicholas Helpers

When making appearances St. Nicholas is greatly aided if he has helpers. There are a variety of traditional companions, or helpers, in Europe. However, most of these do not translate well into English-speaking cultures. Their roots go back to the middle ages and frequently make visual the tension between good and evil. If taken out of context, they can be distracting and problematic, often really quite frightening and scary, or in other ways disturbing.

Still, it helps to have helpers. They can hold the crozier, freeing up St. Nicholas' hands when he is making a presentation or greeting folks. At large events helpers enable the saint to move around easily and control the crowds a bit. With various size groups, things may go more smoothly if there are people to help distribute treats.

St Nicholas with . . .

St Nicholas with two angels
Tacoma, Washington
St. Paul, Minnesota
Finedon, England
Child Helper
Amarillo, Texas
Boalsburg, Pennsylvania
St. Paul, Minnesota
Mother Superior
Warrenton, Virginia

"Official" assistants may be:

  • Angels are traditional in parts of Europe, such as Poland and Slavic lands.
  • Deacons appropriately assist a bishop in service
  • Assistants may be recruited from choristers or acolytes and may be called St. Nicholas chaplains. St. Nicholas may have a "Chapter" in places that are familiar with cathedral structures. (At the Episcopal Parish of St. Thomas the Apostle, the Chapter includes the Canon Precenter, the Venerable Archdeacon, and the Very Reverend Dean. But that's Hollywood!)
  • Child Helpers may hold the crozier; if the time is long, they could take turns. They may also assist in other ways, such has helping with props or treats.
  • Jesters provide more light-hearted assistance. They may hold the crozier, help with crowds and treats, adding a bit of mischief and good humor.
  • Rupert, with cloak, staff and switch, recalls the German servant "Ruprecht" and may assist in many ways, including sharing story-telling.
  • Monastics, either one or more brothers or sisters can also provide help.

Adult helpers are particularly important at large or public events. In smaller school or church settings children are often willing and able to participate. Whether to have serious or more light-hearted assistants depends on the situation and the purpose of the event; the choice helps establish the message and mood.

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