St. Nicholas Day Traditions

Pretty soon, we’ll be polishing our shoes to leave at the front door for St. Nicholas to fill with goodies.  Can you believe we’re halfway through the fast already?

Every year on the eve of St. Nicholas, we go to Vespers and then come home and the boys “polish” their shoes and place them at the front door.  The next day, they wake up to find them filled with little candies and trinkets.  I always like to include an orange, peppermint stick and these awesome Gold Coins from Paidea Classics.   They’re my favorite because they actually say St. Nicholas of Myra on them and the boys love that.  They usually get one or two of those and a few regular ones.  Target always brings the bags of chocolate coins in their dollar section.

This is one of my favorite advent traditions.  In our over commercialized society, the celebration of St. Nicholas Day helps us to teach our children who St. Nicholas really is.  And that he is not a man dressed in red who drives an 8-reindeer-powered sleigh, lol.  It gives us the opportunity to talk about St. Nicholas’ incredible love of the Orthodox Faith; how he was imprisoned and defrocked (only momentarily of course) for fighting against the heresy of Arianism.  We can tell our children about his incredible generosity and the grace he was given by God that led ultimately led him to be known as the St. Nicholas we know today.  St. Nicholas the Wonder-Worker who we celebrate on December 6, not December 25.  That day is reserved for the celebration of the Birth of Christ!

As our children enjoy their chocolate gold coins, we can tell them the story of the three girls whose father did not have enough money for their dowries and was going to be forced to sell them into slavery and how St. Nicholas secretly left sacks of gold for each of their dowries.   Or how he saved the fisherman from the stormy seas.

We need to make sure we are taking the time to teach our children about this great saint and are explaining to them why we leave our shoes for him and why he is such a holy man of God.

Then we get ready for Liturgy.  It’s DH’s nameday that day too, so we have a little lenten cake and give him a gift later on that evening.

After that, we snuggle up and read some of our favorite books about St. Nicholas which include, The Miracle of St. Nicholas, The Life of St. Nicholas the Wonder-Worker (St. Nectarios Press), and The Storm and the Sea: A Story about the life of St. Nicholas (St. Ignatius of Antioch Press).

If you’re looking for a quick online resource that tells the story of the life of St. Nicholas of Myra, this one from wikipedia is great.

Another thing I love love is this episode of the Close to Home podcast.  It’s so old, from like 2007 I think, but we still have a blast listening to it every year and me and the boys love to sing along to O, who loves, Nicholas the Saintly?  Thanks Molly for starting this great tradition for us!

Sometimes, we’ll make a batch of sugar cookies if there’s time.  This is a great lenten recipe.

LENTEN SUGAR COOKIES

yields approx. three dozen

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 T. margarine, softened
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1/2 T.EnerG egg replacer beaten frothy with 2 T. water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, combine margarine, sugar and oil and beat with electric mixer on low speed til creamy.Add egg replacer and vanilla and beat well.
  3. Add dry ingredients in 4 additions, beating on low speed and scraping down sides after each addition.Do not over-beat.Divide dough in half.
  4. Roll out each piece(dusted generously with flour) between two sheets of waxed paper to 1/8”. Transfer dough, still in paper, to baking sheets and chill in freezer 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with oil on nonstick spray.
  6. Cut cookies with 2 and 1/2” cutter.Re-roll scraps.Place cookies 1” apart on prepared sheets.If decorating with colored sugar, sprinkle on now.
  7. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, with rack in upper third of oven, 7-9 minutes, or til lightly colored.Cool pans on racks thoroughly before removing cookies.
  8. Decorate as desired.

Here is an Orthodox Coloring page of St. Nicholas for your little ones to enjoy as well!  They can “color” online or print it out and color at home.

My sister-in-law and I made these little slippers with our kids years ago.  Ace and Lucky still hang them on their bedroom door every year.

The project is from the St. Nicholas Center’s website. Again, it’s not an Orthodox site but there is a lot of Orthodox ideas, materials, etc on there if you have time to sift through everything. There’s A LOT of information!

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