Catholic Activity: St. Nicholas Customs
The feasts of the Advent saints help us to teach the lessons of the season. Here are some suggestions for the feast of St. Nicholas.
The feast of Nicholas, December 6, is a marvelous opportunity to point out that the reason for Christmas is neither St. Nicholas nor Santa Claus — if we happen to call him that — but rather God's desire to begin the work of our redemption as a Child born in a stable at Bethlehem. This lesson can be taught with a simple puppet show (hand puppets are easily made from socks) and emphasized with special treats. Following the Dutch custom, children might put out their shoes or hang their stockings from the mantel on the vigil of this feast, and, if they have been good, find in them the next morning St. Nicholas cookies. Children who have been naughty get straw — a gentle reminder that Advent is a time to strive hard to be very good so that we will be ready for Jesus when He comes. (We can testify from experience in our own family that straw for a child who has been truly naughty has never done any harm, but rather has proved a salutary lesson always.)
Activity Source: Homemade Christians by Mary Reed Newland, George A. Pflaum, Dayton, Ohio, 1964