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7 Simple Ways to Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas

7 simple ways to celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas

Feast day: 

December 6

Patron saint of: 

Children, sailors, unmarried girls, merchants, charitable fraternities, pawnbrokers, Russia and Greece


Set out shoes + fill with treats

The age-old tradition of leaving your shoes outside your door “in hopes” that St. Nicholas will fill them with treats by the morning stems from a true story. 

St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, did what he could to obey Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give your money to the poor.”  

One of the most famous stories is when he saved three sisters from slavery because they were too poor to afford dowry money for a husband. On three different occasions, St. Nicholas anonymously and mysteriously threw a bag of gold coins, either through an open window or down a chimney, into their home. The bags of gold were said to have landed in stockings or shoes left by the fire to dry. 
Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold, which later became represented by oranges when celebrating the feast day.


In honor of St. Nicholas’ generosity, and the belief in the promise that God loves to give good gifts to His children, we celebrate with shoes, stockings, oranges and treats. 

  • Have your loved ones set out their shoes by the fireplace or the door the night before December 6.
  • Mysteriously fill their shoes with traditional treats: chocolate gold coins, candy canes, and oranges.


Alternatively, make surprise orange balls to give extra pizazz to the magic of giving.


How to make surprise orange balls 

1. Fill a plastic ball with a small treat or gift or affirmation note. 

2. Wrap with orange crepe streamer. 

3. Tape closed + tape green paper leaves on top. 

4. Place inside shoes or stockings for your loved ones! 


Ideas for what to fill the surprise orange balls with OR just put in shoes/stockings: 

 FOR YOUNGER KIDS 

  • an orange or clementine
  • small fruits like blueberries 
  • chocolate coins / candy canes 
  • granola bites 
  • photos of their favorite people 
  • interesting objects from nature 
  • small toy 
  • book 
  • Christmas pajamas 
FOR OLDER KIDS / ADULTS 

  • an orange or clementine
  • chocolate coins / candy canes / honey sticks 
  • affirmation notes 
  • gift cards 
  • donut holes / granola bites 
  • Christmas ornament / pajamas 
  • rosary 
  • book 
  • give the kids ideas, tools or supplies (sometimes even money) that can specifically be used for gift-making or gift giving. 
Download our free Advent Guide for a detailed guide and video of how to make surprise orange balls and more ideas for celebrating other feast days in Advent.

Blessing of the oranges

In some churches, there is a special blessing of the oranges, after which everyone can take some blessed fruit home. You can easily do this at home!



BLESSING OF THE ORANGES 

Loving God, you ask us to show kindness and care to everyone. 

Thank you for good Saint Nicholas who shows us how to give gifts and care to others, especially children. 

Bless these oranges that they may remind us of Saint Nicholas’ gifts  to people in need. 

Help us to love and care, like Saint Nicholas, for those who need help and children everywhere. Amen.



From All Through the Day, All Through the Year: Family Prayers and Celebrations, by David B. Batchelder, illustrated by Barbara Knutson, copyright © 2000 Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission. Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca or amazon.uk.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Give to someone in need

St. Nicholas came from a wealthy family. When he was young, both of his parents died and left him a  large inheritance. He decided to give away all his inherited wealth and travel around the countryside to help the poor and the sick.

  • Donate to an organization doing good for impoverished people.  
  • Send an affirmation text or write an encouraging note to someone you know who needs it. 
  • Donate your old clothes or toys. 
  • Make a point to keep a lookout for someone in need this season and help when the opportunity presents itself.

 

Hang + fill your stockings

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.”


Make it a new family tradition to hang the Christmas stockings on December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas. 


Tell the story of St. Nicholas while you do it! 


Alternatively, you can fill the stockings the night before and open them on December 6!


Photo by Erica Marsland Huynh on Unsplash

 

Photo from The Mindful Avocado's Vegan Candy Cane Cookie Recipe

Make Christmas cookies

Bake gingerbread orange cookies, candy cane cookies or sugar cookies topped with crushed  peppermint candy canes.


Cut them into fun Christmas symbols + decorate


Some ideas for cookie shapes:

  • Christmas tree
  • Star of Bethlehem 
  • Orange
  • Three Kings’ crowns 
  • Candy cane
  • Angel 
  • St. Nicholas
  • Shepherd staff 
  • Stocking
  • Sheep

Blessing of the Candy Canes

Candy canes were originally made to represent the shepherd’s staff (or crozier) of St. Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Myra in the 3rd century. 


All bishops carry staffs, hooked at the top like a shepherd’s crook, showing they are the spiritual shepherds who care for their people, just as Jesus is the Good Shepherd. 

Gather the candy canes in your house and say the Blessing of the Candy Canes over them. 

Hang them in special places around the house or on your tree if you have one. 


BLESSING OF THE
CANDY CANES

Good St. Nicholas,
we honor you on this your holy feast day.
We rejoice that you are the patron saint and the holy symbol of joy for many peoples of many lands.
Come, great-hearted saint, and be our patron and companion as we, once again, prepare our homes and hearts for the great feast of Christmas, the birth of the Eternal Blessing, Jesus Christ.
May these sweets, these candy canes, be a sign of Advent joy for us.
May these candy canes, shaped just like your Bishop’s staff, be for us a sign of your benevolent care.
We rejoice that you are the holy bringer of gifts and that so many have been delighted through your great generosity.
Help us to be as generous of heart.
Wherever these candy canes are hung, on tree or wall or door, may they carry with them the bright blessing of God.
May all who shall taste them experience the joy of God upon their tongues and in their hearts.
We ask God, now, to bless these your brightly striped sweets in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.



From Prayers for the Domestic Church: A Handbook for Worship in the Home by Edward Hays, copyright © 1989 (revised) Forest of Peace Publishing. Used by permission. Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca or amazon.uk.

Photo by Deidre Schlabs on Unsplash

 

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