The holiday season is in full swing at the Gavin household and we are slowly forming new family traditions to celebrate each year. One tradition that I had growing up and always wanted to share with my own children was celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6. We missed the boat on St. Nicholas Day last year, but that's the great thing about family traditions – it's never too late to start one. And Dessa's first celebration of St. Nicholas was one that we will treasure forever.
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If you're not already familiar with the story of St. Nicholas, it's a really good one and it sheds a more meaningful light on the tradition of giving and receiving gifts for Christmas. Saint Nicholas lived during the third century on the southern coast of modern-day Turkey. Nicholas was a Catholic bishop who devoted his life to God and was known for his generosity. There are many stories of St. Nicholas sharing gifts and wealth in secret, and many of the widely told stories involve children. Saint Nicholas is often portrayed in illustrations wearing traditional red Bishop's garb along with a bishop's tall hat (called a mitre) – many of these images have evolved to today's modern day, red-clad Santa who comes down the chimney at night with gifts for children across the world.
As a Catholic family, we celebrate and remember the Saints as we try to follow their devotion to Christ. Today is Feast day of Saint Nicholas (which just means it's the official day on the Catholic calendar to honor him) and we had so much fun sharing a little joy of the Saint with Dessa this morning. You see, it's a tradition for many Catholic families to celebrate St. Nicholas by leaving a pair of shoes out the night before December 6 in the hopes that St. Nicholas will visit and leave a small trinket or treat.
Last night before bed, I helped Dessa place her beloved black rubber boots under the tree before we read her bedtime stories. As soon as she awoke this morning, we went to turn on the Christmas tree and check to see if Jolly Old Saint Nick had stopped by our house last night.
Dessa's eyes lit up the moment we turned on the tree to reveal the small treasures that had been left inside those cute little black boots.
So what was left under the tree? A brand new Indestructible book called Jingle Baby (Dessa loves the two Indestructible books we already own) and a clementine, which is a traditional treat for the occasion.
The clementine was the first thing she reached for and we laughed when Dessa immediately sat down and tried to peel the fruit herself. After a little prodding, Dessa went back to see what else St. Nicholas had left for her under the tree.
She was excited about the book, but really just wanted to eat the clementine. Further proof that Indestructible books
At this point, there was only one thing left for Dessa to do: enjoy that delicious round fruit with her breakfast. We rolled her high chair next to the tree so Dessa could enjoy her oatmeal and clementine with a little holiday glow.
Dessa's first St. Nicholas Day surprise was one to remember and I'm so thankful that we incorporated the tradition into our home this year.
If you would like to learn more about St. Nicholas and share a bit of the tradition with your family, it's not too late. There is never a wrong day to learn about a Saint and the message of St. Nicholas is perfect for the entire Christmas season. The St. Nicholas Center website has a wealth of information and resources about the beloved saint and is a great place to get started. There are also several books, movies, and even small toys available on Amazon to teach children more about the beloved Saint. Click on any of the pictures in the image below to check them out on Amazon.
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Happy Saint Nicholas Day from our family to yours! Sending our best wishes for the spirit of St. Nicholas to brighten your holiday season.