Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day

St. Nicholas's feast day is today. Although Santa Claus is fully associated with a commercial and secular Christmas celebration, it is worth remembering that the legend surrounding Santa grew up around a historical Christian figure, Bishop Nicholas, who lived about three hundred years after Christ. He is known for his generosity to the needy, his persecution by the Emperor Diocletian, and his attendance at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.

We come from a Protestant tradition that doesn't emphasize particular saints over others and we don't formally celebrate saint days. For Protestants like us, pre-Reformation church history can be a bit of a blur. But when St. Nicholas is largely understood by American children as a cartoony, magical gift-giver, it is important to make an effort to correct the record for our children.

In our home, Santa is a character in Clement Moore's famous poem, but there is no question that Mom and Dad are the ones that fill the stockings that hang on the mantle.  We are careful to teach our kids the truth about St. Nicholas and start early explaining how the actions of one man who lived a few centuries after Jesus have inspired centuries of myths and legends that cross cultures, thanks to the early influence of the church in western culture.

We don't have a big celebration for St. Nicholas, other than to remark, "Today's St. Nicholas's feast day. Do you remember who that was?" It is good, though, to reclaim from secular culture some traditions that come from our church history and put Santa into his proper place.

Here are some St. Nicholas resources:

Online biography of St. Nicholas, from the St. Nicholas Center.
Picture book St. Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer
The True St. Nicholas by William Bennett
Picture book Santa, Are You for Real? by Harold Myra (2005) OOP but available from Abe Books.

2 comments:

Meredith said...

Thanks for your St Nicholas post.

"We are careful to teach our kids the truth about St. Nicholas and start early explaining how the actions of one man who lived a few centuries after Jesus have inspired centuries of myths and legends that cross cultures, thanks to the early influence of the church in western culture."

That is a really helpful sentence that ties up all the strands extremely well and has focussed my thoughts. Thank you.

And thanks especially for the links - very helpful.

Hope you are well and that your school year is going well too.

Laura at By the Bushel said...

Agree with previous commenter and furthermore your mention of the protestants fuzzy understanding of the saints. Lack of presentation of these monumentally faithful brethren can leave the mind of a young child to wander. When all they see and hear is from the media or from others less charitable to Catholicism, a precious person such as St. Nicholas will be demonized along with other saints. I appreciate your effort to share these people with your children and further help me by sharing your thoughts on your blog.
In the last few years our celebration of this particular season has changed monumentally. As has the level of belief in the commercial Santa Claus. He hasn't entirely left our home. (Oh how I pray he will soon enough), but that will come in time. Until then we continue to & have put our Jesse Tree as the forefront of our decoration, with simple ornaments to complement, and continued regular Bible study to emphasize Our Spirititual Heritage. One can't go wrong learning how early elders of the church and saints along the way gave in many cases 'their all' to live as Christ.
My comments are my thoughts, not meant to re-phrase yours. Thanks always Mrs. Edwards.
So jealous of the St. Lucia Festival opportunity! & looking forward to finding one in my area!! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...