6 December: Feast of St Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is the patron of children, the hungry, brides and scholars! He was born in the year 270 and grew up on the coast of what is now Turkey with his wealthy Greek parents. He became bishop in Myra and died there on December 6, 343.  He was also known as “Nikaolaos of Myra” and “boy bishop”, because he became a bishop at the young age of 30. He was known for being incredibly generous, especially to children. In the year 800, he was officially recognized as a Saint. In France in the 1200s, Catholics began celebrating Bishop Nicholas Day on December 6. Throughout the years, Saint Nicholas became more well-known and Dutch immigrants brought their traditions to America. They added their pronunciation of his name — Sinter Klass. This began to lead the way to the tradition of gifts being brought in the night by the name of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

Traditions: The most popular way to celebrate St. Nicholas Day is to put shoes out for St. Nicholas to leave small treats and gifts in. This tradition is done in remembrance of how St. Nicholas himself would leave gifts for the poor outside their windows or doors at night. Children love this tradition! They put their shoes out the night before St. Nicholas Day. Shoes can be placed outside a door or by the fireplace. When they awake, it is a delight to find that St. Nicholas has left special surprises in their shoes!

St. Nicholas Day shoe gift ideas:

  • Chocolate gold coins (to represent the gold coins St. Nicholas left for 3 poor daughters)
  • Candy canes, Life Savers, or other little candies
  • Small toys or trinkets
  • Ginger or gingerbread cookies
  • Clothing or new shoes (to represent how St. Nicholas gave clothing to the poor)
  • A Christmas ornament
  • Clementines (because they also represent the gold St. Nick gave away)
  • Religious items (medals, holy cards, rosaries, saints books or videos, saints peg dolls, etc)

Some fun St. Nicholas feast day activities for children include coloring pages or printable ornaments:

  • Check out these from Catholic Icing
  • Read about St Nicholas with this book, this one, or even this one!
  • Try out these cute & easy St. Nicholas cookies or, make your own traditional St. Nicholas Gingerbread cookies
  • Here is an idea for making a St. Nicholas miter
  • Another neat tradition is the blessing of candy canes. The candy cane shape reminds us of St. Nicholas’ crozier (bishop’s staff). On St. Nicholas day, you may purchase candy canes and say this blessing
  • Most importantly, be sure to pray together and ask St. Nicholas to intercede for you and your family.

God our Father, we pray that through the intercession of St. Nicholas, you will protect our children. Keep them safe from harm and help them grow and become worthy in your sight. Give them strength to keep their Faith in You; and to keep alive their joy in your creation. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

God of joy and cheer, we thank you for your servant, the good bishop Nicholas.
In loving the poor, he showed us your kindness; in caring for your children, he revealed your love.
Make us thoughtful without need of reward so that we, too, may be good followers of Jesus.