Every year I celebrate St. Nicholas Day - St. Nick was a real person - born in Turkey and in his later years became a bishop in the church. St. Nick loved kids - and it is said that he hired people to make wooden toys, warm clothes and gingerbread treats that he'd go and hand out.
so - this morning I will make gingerbread men - but the old gingerbread cookie cutters had a bishops mitre (the pointy cap you see) as opposed to the roly-poly gingerbread men we traditionally see here in the states. So actually we're making gingerbread Bishops.
Later on some friends are coming over to decorate the cookies with me - at that time they will receive a stocking with something warm, something wood, something good to eat, and some chocolate gold coins. The gold coins come from a story about St. Nicholas hearing about a man who could not pay the dowry for his daughters wedding, so Nick snuck by at night, threw some gold coins into the house and the legend is they landed in the stockings hanging by the fire to dry.
In honor of St. Nick - it is great to do an anonymous kindness - Nicholas was motivated by the love of God to love others.
Here's is one pic of him:
My friend Beth, who discipled me in Corvallis, used to celebrate St. Nicholas day every year - it is when they gave their Christmas gifts. After St. Nick day, they'd put away the Santa stuff, and concentrate solely on the wonder of Jesus coming as an infant to bring the miracle of God Incarnate to us. Her daughter was asked by a lady at the checkout stand, "So, is Santa going to visit you this year?" And Lissa answered, "St. Nicholas has already visted, and now we are looking forward to celebrating Jesus."
So-I urge you to investigate more about the real St. Nick - a lover of God and others.
Oh - btw - it was Clement C. Moore's famous poem, "Twas the Night before Christmas" (1823) that gave us the first glimpse of the now U.S. version of Saint Nicholas. Then in 1931 - Coca Cola started using St. Nick for advertising with the tagline: "Thirst knows no season." Now, that I would agree with - but more along the lines of thirst for God...
Check out www.stnicholascenter.org for a whole lot more of details and ideas for how to celebrate.
And happy St. Nicholas Day!