Monday, December 6, 2010

our traditions: st. nicholas' day

Disclaimer:  Before you read this, you should know that I don't have any issues with Santa or the idea of people using Santa in their holiday traditions as a family.  This is just the way we do it at our house.  This is what works for us as a family, but whatever you do at your house and whatever works for you is FABULOUS!  
Today is St. Nicholas' Day.  Don't know what St. Nicholas' Day is?  Go here.

We celebrate St. Nicholas' Day at our house for a variety of reasons:
1)  Our girls already know that Mommy and Daddy are the ones who give them their gifts at Christmas not Santa.  (Go ahead . . . you can call us party poopers if you want to.  ;)  I won't be offended.  I've heard it before.)

2)  We decided before we had children that we wanted to try to get away from the commercialism of Christmas as much as possible by giving only a few gifts and focusing more on traditions, family time and giving to others. 

3)  St. Nicholas is the real person who the fun of Santa Claus is based on, so we thought we would help them focus on what a real person did to help others.

4)  We aren't Roman Catholic, but the characteristics of St. Nicholas are ones we would love for our girls to embody.  And we try to incorporate a variety of traditions into our holiday celebration.

**I know lots of people who use the idea of Santa to do these same things . . . that's great too.  For example, my friend Jocelyn over at We Talk of Christ teaches her kids the importance of giving by enlisting her kids as Santa's secret helpers.  This is such a great idea!**

We celebrate St. Nicholas' Day at our house every year with a few simple traditions:
1) We put up our tree and other Christmas decorations.

2) The girls have St. Nick boxes that get filled with small and simple gifts as well as some chocolate gold-covered coins and a wooden shoe filled with carrots.  Read why here.
Remember these haircessory holders?
wooden shoe with carrots and coins

inside lid of St. Nick box
3) We think of one person or family we can give something special to this holiday season.  I love this idea that Leslie shared during twelve (plus) days of traditions.

I realize that most you don't celebrate St. Nicholas' Day, but the whole point of this traditions for us is getting our children to focus on giving not getting during this time of year . . . and that's something many of us do have in common.

What are some ways you try to teach your children the importance of giving to others?

Tradition on!


janimal said...

I think that your traditions sound LOVELY. How excellent that your kids are being taught such important lessons and are being brought up to care for others. Now THAT is a gift!

Anonymous said...

I was born in Germany and St. Nicholas Day is big there. I remember always cleaning my boots (or the biggest shoes I could find) and placing them by the front door on the night of December 6th. In the morning there would always be treats...I remember getting a record for my record player one year.

In Germany there is no Santa just St. Nicholas. On Christmas eve (also no Christmas day gifts) an angel called "Christkind" comes and leaves your gifts while you are at church. It was difficult switching from German traditions to American ones when we moved here.

With my own kids, I have not done the St. Nicholas tradition until this year. For some reason I just never remembered to. :( It brings back some exciting memories though and I'm glad that I thought of participating this year. We actually made St. Nicholas day part of our advent calendar.

Thanks for sharing your tradition. It's fun to see others celebrating. :)

Unknown said...

Party pooper!

Just kidding. :) Mark and I have talked a lot about how we want to do Christmas, and specifically presents, with our kids (once they're old enough to know/care). I am more in favor of smaller/fewer gifts and leaving Santa in the shadows or out entirely, so we'll see what happens with Paul as he grows. I really love the idea of celebrating St. Nicholas Day today -- and coincidentally we're putting up our Christmas tree tonight for our family night. :)

stephaniegiese said...

This year is the first day we celebrated St. Nicholas day, sort of. For us, it's more about celebrating our son and how God watched over him during the first part of his life. He was a foster child, born to a homeless mother with a mental disorder. I find it very touching & appropriate that she chose to name him Nicholas, after the patron saint of children & sailors, as he was a child sailing from one family to another for a while before he got today we read a children's story about how St. Nicholas became the man we know as Santa and then we went to visit Santa at the mall. We alsp spent the weekend going through our toys & deciding what to giveaway, then we took the kids on a trip to Goodwill. They're only 3 and 1, so I think that might be all we can do for the time being. Thanks for sharing your ideas! I'm looking for ways for out family to expand our St. Nicholas day celebration in the future, these are great!

chris said...

I love this idea...and wish I had run across it sooner! One way I help my kids to focus on giving is helping them make Christmas gifts for each other. Now that the older ones are capable of doing most of the work, they really look forward to surprising each other.

Mihaela { Best Toys 4 Toddlers } said...

LOL I just posted this: Happy Saint Nicholas day! :) and went check my mail and found this! :)))

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Happy St. Nicholas Day!!! Scarlett would LOVE to get carrots!!!!

hclairec said...

As my girls grew up we tried to play down Santa. Once they asked if he was real, we told them the truth and about St Nicholas. I have tried to avoid Santa when purchasing decoration and center my house on the birth of Christ. It has not been easy - everyone asks what is Santa bringing you? Santa is watching, etc.

Jen said...

I spent many years as a child in Germany, so I know and love St Nicholas. We have not yet done it with our daughter, but this is only her second December. I look forward to celebrating it with her next year and in years to come. My husband is a little baffled by it - as he is by many of my wacky ideas on parenting - but amenable :)

Papgena Made It said...

Althought Portugal has chatolic roman traditions, st. nichols is not celebrated here (as far as I know). However, when I was a child we did put shoes in the oven on christmas'eve for presents (and I think other children do it too), so I imagine that st. nichols has something to do with it! My grandparents said it was baby jesus who give the presents and everyone else that was Pai Natal.
Now, that I have a child, I try to join Pai Natal (father christmas aka Santa) and baby jesus, together, is a little tricky!

Quimby said...

When we had our daughter I suggested to DH that we celebrate St Nicholas Day. He asked when it was; I told him; and he said, "What if we're not ready for it by then!? We need the extra time!" (And I thought he knew me - I'm already half-done with next year's Christmas!) I think it's a lovely tradition.

This year we're doing a "Santa box" with my daughter - when we 'catch' her doing something nice we write a note and put it in the box. We told her that Santa will read all of the notes when he comes on Christmas Eve. I've written up a note from Santa to her, to praise her for being such a good girl.

But enquiring minds want to know - what did your daughters think of the hairccessories?

Beverly {Flamingo Toes} said...

We didn't do the Santa thing with our kids when they were little either. And I don't think they ever felt like they missed out. ;)
As they get older, we are trying to get more creative about what we do to put the focus on others at Christmas.
This year we're adopting a family from the military base near us whose husband is deployed. My kids are looking forward to picking out gifts for their kids. It's the first year we've done anything like that and I'm excited about it.
(I hope that doesn't sound braggy. ;)

Chelsi said...

I love this tradition. I grew up knowing there was no Santa Claus and never felt shafted. I'm trying to do the same with my children, but I sure get tired of how everyone seems to assume that you have to do Santa Claus. I'd much rather focus on St. Nicholas. Thanks for sharing. Maybe we'll start a new trend.

Kimminita said...

Saint Nicolas is our HUGE Sinterklaas festivity in Holland. We celebrate it with gifts for the children every year in the Netherlands. So fun to see it is reaching overseas now!

Emily said...

I am so excited that someone else celebrates St. Nick's day as well!! It didn't happen so much this year, but we use Dec 6 (which also happens to be my birthday) as the day when we receive one big family gift-- last year it was snowshoes-- which will help us do activities as a family. We also get our tree that day.

My 5 year old son knows Santa Claus isn't real, but he likes to play along, which is fine. I make sure that he understands and celebrates Jesus' birth, since as Christians, that is what we believe.

Zakina said...

Hi i'm from the Netherlands and by us Sint Nicolasday (sinterklaas) is a commercial fest. But is the great time off the year

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