When St. Nicholas Comes
An Entertainment for School from 1926
Adapted from The Little Delineator, January 1926, Holland Number
THERE is no stage except the whole schoolroom, and everybody is in the play, because you pretend you are a class of Dutch country children in Holland. You may wear Dutch costumes or not as you like, for many Dutch children dress as you do. An American boy traveling in Holland is visiting your school. Click for Dutch songs. You and your teacher can make the play much longer by adding more parts.
AFTER a St. Nicholas song, Dutch or American, the teacher speaks.
TEACHER: Today is the fifth of December and tomorrow, all over our country, children will be celebrating St. Nicholas Day. We are lucky to have a real American boy with us, who has crossed the ocean to Holland from America!
CHILDREN (whispering and craning their necks): A boy from America!
TEACHER: Who can show me America on the map?
(Several children raise their hands, and others shake their heads.)
(NANS goes to the map and points to South America. Children wave their hands.)
AMERICAN BOY (laughing and rising): Ho! Ho! That’s not where I live. I live in the United States—here! (He points to the town where your school is.)
NANS: Oh-h! But you’re called Americans.
AMERICAN BOY: Well, you live in Holland and you’re called Dutch!
NANS: We-e-ll! But didn’t you have a civil war between North America and South America?
AMERICAN BOY (laughing loud): Ho! Ho! That’s funny! Our civil war was between the North of the United States and the South of the United States.
NANS (sighing and going back to her seat): Oh-h your American history is so mixed up.
TEACHER: Would any children like to ask our visitor about his country? (Many children wave their hands.)
HANS: Well, I want to know if there are cowboys in your town, and if they shoot people and chase each other through the water like the American movies?
AMERICAN BOY: No! Of course not!
HILDA: Please tell me, do your black people talk a different language from you, and do all the women wear red bandanna handkerchiefs?
AMERICAN BOY: No! They dress and talk like everybody else.
JAN: Is it true you have houses twenty stories high, that scrape the clouds?
AMERICAN BOY (boasting): Twenty! Why, some sky-scrapers have sixty-four stories.
HANS: Oo-h! And do you have to carry your wood and water and coal all the way to the top? (Everybody laughs and HANS hides his face.)
SUSAN: Is your father a millionaire?
AMERICAN BOY: No, indeed!
SUSAN (disappointed): Why, I thought all Americans were millionaires. Well, can your mother cook?
AMERICAN BOY (proudly): Sure she can! Um-m, you ought to taste her lemon pie and—
SUSAN: Why, I thought all American ladies were rich and lazy!
TEACHER: Suppose we let our visitor tell us what he thought Holland was like, before he came here and learned our language and our ways.
AMERICAN BOY (embarrassed and shifting his feet): We-ell, I thought—I thought you were all fat and had yellow hair.
CHILDREN (laughing and nudging each other): Fat! Yellow hair!
AMERICAN BOY: And that you always wore big bloomers or full skirts and wooden shoes, even indoors and to church.
(Children laugh louder.) And I didn’t know that you had regular cities like Amsterdam, with department stores and hotels and ladies dressed up and business offices and newspapers. I thought you were all poor and lived on dikes, and ate only black bread and cheese.
CHILDREN (laughing): Only black bread and cheese!
AMERICAN BOY: And I didn’t know the girls jumped rope or the boys played marbles and catchers like us. And I never even heard of St. Nicholas Day!
CHILDREN (very surprised and shocked): Never even heard of St. Nicholas Day!
TEACHER: Hilda, suppose you tell our American friend about St. Nicholas.
HILDA (coming forward): St. Nicholas was a good saint, and once he saved two boys whose uncle had pickled them in a tub. And he knows everything children do, and every sixth of December, his day, he comes and leaves toys and sweets for good children, and switches for bad children.
TEACHER (smiling): I think perhaps St. Nicholas is coming here today, Jan and Hans, spread the cloth.
(All the children whisper excitedly. JAN and HANS spread a skeet near the door.)
CHILDREN: St. Nicholas is coming! St. Nicholas!
AMERICAN BOY: Aw! I wouldn’t believe such baby stuff. I bet he can’t tell anything about me. I bet—
He jumps as three loud raps come on the door just behind him. The room is perfectly quiet. The AMERICAN BOY edges away from the door, frightened. Another three raps. The teacher motions to the children who call:
CHILDREN: Come, St. Nicholas! Come!
ST. NICHOLAS (taking a bundle of switches from his bag and shaking them): What about that slice of lemon pie you stole from your mother’s pantry?
(The AMERICAN BOY opens his mouth in fright and sits on the floor behind the teacher’s desk, with only his feet sticking out.)
ST. NICHOLAS: And you promised a letter a week to your grandmother. How often did you write?
(The AMERICAN BOY wiggles a foot): Only once!
ST. NICHOLAS (throwing him the bundle of switches): Here!
(AMERICAN Boy’s feet droop sorrowfully.)
But you have done a few good deeds as well (the feet cheer up). You spent your allowance for a toy windmill to send to your best friend in America. You have run errands cheerfully for your mother. Here!
(He throws him a package which the boy catches with his feet, and then carefully unwraps)
ST. NICHOLAS (passing down the aisle): Hans! You have not studied your geography lesson.
(HANS hangs his head.)
But you take good care of your little sister and wash dishes and make beds. Here, Hans (he gives him some switches and a package, and then he tells all the children their faults, giving each switches and a package.)
The class then sings another song, and ST. NICHOLAS suddenly throws a shower of nuts, candies and fruits on the sheet, and slips out as the children are scrambling.
Adapted from The Little Delineator, January 1926, Holland Number, Harriet Ide Eager, editor, The Butterick Publishing Company. Illustrated by Robert Graef, picture editor. St. Nicholas Center Collection.
The Little Delineator sheet was a special small eight-page insert for children in the Delineator with stories, information, a Deli-Bear adventure, crafts, and contest and prizes.
This little account has been adapted to remove some typical stereotypes of the time, however you may wish to adapt it further to make it more contemporary.