St. Nicholas Day, December 6th.
Santa Claus invades my kids eyes and ears almost every day for at least a month before Christmas. So how to address this Christmas sung hero in my home? I began asking this question when my oldest was about 3 and everyone was asking her what she wanted from Santa.
Squashing the cashier’s Christmas joy was not an option.
But what are my kids going to say to the Santa question, especially when they get older? There aren’t any presents from Santa at our house, but technically,
St. Nicholas is real!
As I looked at the background of who Santa Claus really was–removing the folklore and embellishments that had been added later–I found a man who served the Lord he loved and used his inherited riches to love needy people like Jesus would. So is he the hero or is Jesus? When someone gives up their riches regularly and happily, they have spent time with Jesus. I’m not talking about moments of giving just to feel good about oneself, but giving out of relief and thankfulness for the gift Jesus gave—Himself.
In this way, Santa can be another one of those reminders
that points to
The True Hero of Christmas.
Without Him, there would be no giving or loving the needy—at all. The words wouldn’t even exist in our broken human vocabularies.
Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th in many countries, and so on this day we read the story of Saint Nicholas loving poor people like Jesus did. We put coins, gold candy, and some things the kids need in their stocking. Then we begin collecting coins to help someone in need during Christmas. I like to hide coins all over the house for them to find throughout the month and collect in their stocking.
The articles on St. Nicholas from the Jelly Telly blog were helpful in my original search for Santa history, and also their Christmas DVD, Why do we call it Christmas? The DVD explains the Saint Nicholas origin (and other Christmas traditions) very well. It’s now our tradition to watch it every St. Nicholas Day so that it clears up many of the confusing messages thrown around in December.
Today when my kids are asked about Santa Claus, they tell about collecting coins and helping people in need, just like Saint Nicholas. And this is how our family is dealing with the very real human named Santa Claus.