Today I was at the pediatric dentist for my two oldest kiddos, and she mentioned Santa Claus. I told her that as Catholics we like to place the emphasis of St. Nicholas on his feast day which is December 6th and reserve Christmas for celebrated the birth of Jesus. She told me that that was refreshing because in her native country they go all out for St. Nicholas’ feast day.
This highlights my love for living liturgically. I love the conversation it starts; I love how we can step away from the commercialized Santa Claus that crowds the malls, and just the focus that it puts back on the real reason for Christmas.
Just a little background, my kids know the difference between Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas. They know that one is more of a fairytale, whereas St. Nicholas was a real holy man of God. We let our children watch Christmas movies because usually they are wholesome and send a good Christian message of giving and caring for others.
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How We Celebrate St. Nicholas’ Feast Day
1. We put out our shoes and place them in front of our mantle for St. Nicholas to fill with goodies.
2. Goodies in our shoes.
– chocolate coins to remind us of the dowries that St. Nicholas gave to those three sisters, otherwise they would not have been able to marry and would have been sold into slavery.
– an orange, which I just learned is to remind us of the same cost as the coins. In earlier years, they didn’t have chocolate coins or even real coins to give so they used the oranges to symbolize St. Nicholas’ generous gift.
– a candy cane is to symbolize the staff or crozier of a bishop because St. Nicholas was, in fact, the Bishop of Myra.
These are the three St. Nicholas books we have gotten for our children so far. All three tell stories of the real St. Nicholas and aren’t fabled stories of Santa Claus. We usually give each child a book, so this year we will give them these three plus a book on the Nativity.
–St. Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins
–The Miracle of Saint Nicholas
Not a book, but last year I also gave my kids these nativity stickers and they thoroughly enjoyed them, especially my sticker loving 5-year-old.
Here is a link, if you would like to see my full list of Advent Books for Kids.
We give our children their matching holiday pajamas on St. Nicholas’ Feast Day. I like for us all to match, yes even my husband and I get a matching set. We used to get a different type of every time, but then we could never find that print again, last year we got everyone matching Buffalo Plaid and I am so glad we did. Every year, Old Navy and Carters has Buffalo Plaid on sale on Black Friday, so now we can get the sizes we need so easily, and I only need one for each size. We now have 12m, 2t, 3t, 4t, 5t, and 6 which means we’re set for a while, only needing to size up on my oldest.
We also got slippers last year, which I love, but none of my kids outgrew theirs so they’ll be getting the same ones from last year except my youngest who wasn’t able to wear them last year. I got him these for this year.
5. Coloring Sheets
We love using these Catholic Playground Coloring Pages. They are a free resource, and they are perfect for my kids to color.
St. Nicholas Center also has a nice variety of St. Nicholas pictures to color. They also have a page on how to draw St. Nicholas as well.
6. St. Nicholas Activities
We enjoyed doing some of the St. Nicholas activities from St. Nicholas Center last year. We made some felt St. Nicholas ornaments that we put on our tree. I really like to put our homemade ornaments that we make throughout advent (usually having to do with a saint’s feast day) on our little Jesse Tree.
They also have how to make your own miter as well.
We also did this St. Nicholas ornament last year as well. This website is fantastic and if you have never heard of it, you should go check it out and pick an activity for your kids to do.
7. Bake some St. Nicholas cookies, treats, breads, etc.
This year we will be making cookies. My mom makes these cookie decorating kits that I’m hoping she will make for me because I am not known for my baking… yet.
8. The first year that we celebrated St. Nicholas’ Feast Day in 2020 I also gave my children the Fisher Price Nativity Scene to play with and they absolutely adored it. So that could be something special that you give your kids.
Final Note of Encouragement
Our celebration may seem overwhelming. We only started really doing anything special in the last two years because before my oldest was 4, it was just too much hassle for something they wouldn’t get much out of. Now that my oldest is 6, he really enjoys doing these activities and so do I. Another reason we have been able to do so much is because I don’t work anymore.
I feel like those first four years of motherhood that I worked I was constantly in survival mode. I couldn’t think about these activities, I was just trying to keep my small children alive, while pregnant or breastfeeding.
I say all of this because if you don’t do these activities, it is okay. Your kids won’t suffer. They won’t be worse Christians. You don’t have to do these things to be a good mom. I personally, enjoy these things. I enjoy doing the crafts and printing off an extra sheet so that I can color one myself. I don’t like to bake, but I do like to decorate cookies. Do what you enjoy, do what you have the energy for, and just let everything else go.
I hope that some of these ideas and resources will help you. If you give your kids something different or celebrate St. Nicholas is another special way, please let me know. Leave a comment, share this post to social media if you feel so inclined.