Nicholas: A Garland of Tales

for the Nights Before Christmas

adapted from Pamela Grenfell Smith

This collection of St. Nicholas tales could be told on the seven nights before or after St. Nicholas Day, or on seven nights closer to Christmas.

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Byzantine St Nicholas

Western St Nicholas

The Second Tale

Night after night, Nicholas wandered. The baker sold him bread, always with a few extra loaves. Clearly this old man must be feeding a houseful of hungry people! The other stallkeepers filled up his great sack with clothes and blankets and little odds and ends.

Late one night he came to a small, shabby home where the lamp still was lighted. Inside, people were talking. Or —— were they weeping? He stopped to listen.

It was a mother and father, grieving together about their oldest daughter. In those days a young woman needed a certain amount of money to get married, and these people were so poor that they could not set up their daughter in a decent home. “What will become of her?” said her mother. “She’ll never have a husband, or a little house, or even a garden to grow roses and herbs.”

“Perhaps she will have to work in the taverns, dear wife, and bring wine to the sailors until daybreak. Hard work, rough work, for our precious girl. Oh, my heart will break!” said the father. And they clung to one another and wept.

Nicholas said to himself, “Now, I have a small bag of gold that would help this family—but I don’t want them to feel that I expect something in return. How can I get it to them without being seen? He leaned against the wall of the house and prayed for an idea. There was a hole in the roof of the house where smoke came out from the cooking fire (houses in those days didn’t have chimneys), but at this time of night there was no fire on the hearth. Nicholas tossed the bag of gold straight into the opening.

There was a terrific puff of ashes. “Mercy on us, husband,” yelled the wife, “the hearth is exploding!”

“No, no, wife,” said the husband, “look, it’s gold! Gold! Soon we’ll dance at our daughter’s wedding!” And they ran outdoors to see where the gold had come from, but Nicholas had already hurried away into the night.

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Nicholas: A Garland of Tales is also available as a simple drama

Adapted from Nicholas: A Garland of Tales for the Nights before Christmas, by Pamela Grenfell Smith, Baba-Yaga.org Copyright © 1995 Pamela Grenfell Smith. Used under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. You are free to use and adapt it so long as

  1. you attribute authorship and copyright to Pamela Grenfell Smith,
  2. your use is non-commercial, and
  3. you may not copyright your adaptation of this work under a more restrictive copyright.

Illustrations copyright © 2002-2009 St. Nicholas Center All rights reserved.

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