Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $37,014 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Catholic Activity: Celebrating for the Feast of St. Nicholas

The feast of St. Nicholas, bishop, falls on December 6, at the beginning of Advent. This day brings much celebrating, especially in Eastern Europe and Germanic countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Italy also celebrates this saint's day.

DIRECTIONS

In a time where Christmas commercialism is rampant, a family needs to try to keep the focus on what Advent and Christmas is all about. Advent is preparing for Christ's birth, both internally and externally. To shift the focus of the materialistic or "give me" common at Christmas, try giving stocking gifts on December 6 instead of Christmas Day. Shoes can be left outside the bedroom door, or stockings are hung by the fire on December 5th evening. St. Nicholas (instead of Santa Claus) comes by to brings cookies or gifts in the shoes or stockings.

In Germanic countries, St. Nicholas is accompanied by Krampus, an evil spirit or little devil, usually dressed in fur or black with a long tail, and carries a rattling chain, birch branches and a big black bag. In Holland Sinterklass or Sinterklaus leaves from Spain on a boat, accompanied by Black Peter (Piet), his Moor servant. Peter wears animal skins or the traditional medieval Moorish colorful clothing. M December 5, St. Nicholas Eve, is known in some rural areas of Austria as "Krampus Day." Children and adults go to the village square to throw snowballs and try to chase off Krampus. Other Krampuses lie in wait, rattling their chains and threatening to carry off naughty children in their black bags, or to punish them with their birch branches. All this is done in fun; Krampus' main purpose is remind the children to be good.

In most Germanic countries, St. Nicholas comes on December 5. Children leave their shoes on the windowsill or outside their bedroom door, and St. Nicholas rewards the children who have been good all year by filling up their shoes with goodies, such as nuts, fruits and sweets. Sometimes he comes on December 6, his actual feast day.

In Austria, the good saint will appear in his flowing robes and bishop's mitre and carrying a bishop's staff. He carries a thick book which has the records the Guardian Angels have been keeping all year — all the good and bad deeds of the world's children. At the appointed time, the whole family is gathered for St. Nicholas' arrival. Krampus accompanies the bishop to scold naughty children. The bishop calls each child of the family forward to give an account of the year, and perhaps to recite their prayers. When Krampus tries to punish the naughty, St. Nicholas drives him away. After each child promises good behavior for the next year, he distributes the treats. Sometimes, in addition to the goodies, he rewards the children with birch branches decorated with candy, just as a reminder that Krampus is around if they should falter.

Whether celebrated on the eve or December 6, this holiday is a great occasion for children and adults. See suggested recipes for this feast day.

Jennifer Gregory Miller Jennifer G. Miller

Activity Source: Original Text (JGM) by Jennifer Gregory Miller, © Copyright 2003-2014 by Jennifer Gregory Miller

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Is Cardinal Kasper losing his grip? 0 hours ago
The Pope is not the problem 21 hours ago
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. 23 hours ago
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22
Has the Vatican finally discovered how to avoid inaccurate English translations? October 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6