In French you pronounce St. Nicholas San Nee-ko-LAH. His feast day on December 6th is sort of like opening day for the Christmas season. Zeus grew up with the tradition and I readily adopted it, because I appreciate the fact that it gives an opportunity to talk about the real St. Nicholas who was a real bishop of Myra in the early 300s. He was a faithful Christian man devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are some fun books out there to read to kids about St. Nicholas, like
The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi that tell the real story about the bishop
and how he liked to help people anonymously – perhaps once even throwing money down a chimney – hence some of our traditions associated with Santa Claus.
At home we put our shoes out on the night of December 5th, and in the morning ! St. Nicholas had filled them with chocolates and peanuts and mandarins and sometimes a little giftie! This year it was fun for our kids to hear people talking about St. Nicholas and to realize that that is a shared cultural experience. And, St. Nicholas actually came to our house!!
With St. Nicholas is Pere Fouttard, ‘Father Whip’, who leaves switches with your parents if they say you need them. He didn’t leave any with us, but St. Nicholas did read from his golden book and had a little encouragement and exhortation for each of the children.
It was quite amazing, because in his golden book it was written that Hermes should no longer sit on his Papa’s head when he is stretching, which is just what Papa had been saying himself not two hours before! St. Nicholas knows all! Hermes was quite sober at that.
Look! In this photo you can see the holiness glowing right out of the top of St. Nicholas’ head! Oh no, wait, that is just the lamp. Maybe that is why he was wearing the goofy little John Lennon sun glasses? They left us with mandarin oranges, peanuts and chocolate. We still have the peanuts and a couple mandarins, but the chocolate has all since disappeared.
Saturday we visited the Christmas market in St. Ursanne, a charming little medieval town not too far away. It has a beautiful old cloister, and on this particular day the streets were filled with artisans selling their wares, yummy Christmas treats and the local brass band, the fanfare, trumpeting out carols. I captured a little bit on my Stormie phone, which I am still learning my way around. So they are not the smoothest videos – but they are meant to give you a little flavor.
At our house things are getting more and more Christmassy – especially with the coverage of snow that keeps falling every three days or so.
Happy Preparations, Everyone!