Thursday, December 6, 2012

St. Nicholas Day

Today is the feast of St. Nicholas.

We always celebrate. It's a family tradition.

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Nicholas, An Advent Saint
Advent is the time when Christians prepare to greet Christ—who came as a babe in a manger, who comes into our lives each day, and who will come again at the end of time. Advent is the time when people of faith are most at odds with the culture. The church calls people to focus on getting ready to receive Christ—preparing hearts and lives to make room for Jesus, to live as he would have us live. It is a time of longing, not fulfillment. Quiet reflection, not celebration. The culture, however, is already in a time of festivity, unable or unwilling, to wait and contemplate and prepare for the real festival. It is not easy to observe Advent without being pulled prematurely into Christmas.

How does St. Nicholas fit into all of this? He is an Advent saint because his December 6th feast day always falls in early Advent (Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas between November 27 and December 3). However, Nicholas is a good Advent saint for more important reasons than the date of his special day. Whatever he did, and it is said that he did many kinds of amazing things, may not be as important as the way he did it. Nicholas became so popular because he was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. His life clearly reflected the way each one of us is called to show God's love to others, especially those in need.

Celebrating St. Nicholas on his day in Advent brings a bit of fun and festivity into homes, churches, and schools. His small treats and surprises help keep the spirit of good St. Nicholas, especially when stories of his goodness and kind deeds are told and ways to express his care for those in need are sought. Saint Nicholas helps us remember Christmas is a feast of love, hope, kindness and generosity. Yes, Nicholas is a good Advent saint.

St. Nicholas Celebrations in Wisconsin

From WLUK:

St. Nicholas and American Christmas Customs

St. Nicholas Customs Around the World


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