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{tis’ the season}

12.06.11

For many reasons, I am filled with anticipation as we enter the month of December each year.  Not only is the farm moving into a different gear, but it is a time to spend with family and friends in a season of cheer, delight, love, and giving.

When I married Tyler and joined the Jones family, one more reason was added to my excitement for this time of year; St. Nicholas Day!

Nicholas was a man who was raised by his parents to love and follow the teachings of Jesus. His parents died when he was still young and left him with a large inheritance; which he used in entirety to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. As a young man he was made Bishop of Myra due to his life’s dedication to serve God.*

He was known throughout the land for this generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.  He was imprisoned in the time of the ruthless Christian persecutor, Roman Emperor Diocletian, but was released and attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.  St. Nicholas died December 6, AD 343 in Myra.  We now celebrate him in his death, on December 6th,  for all the great things he did for so many while he was living on Earth.

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One of the stories about Nicholas, and the one that Tyler’s dad reads to us the morning of the 6th {or usually the Saturday/Sunday closest to the 6th} is the one of a poor man with three daughters, all of marrying age.  In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry.

This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

This story is incredibly inspiring to me.  It’s not solely inspiring because of what Nicholas did.  Nor how much influence it has had on all of our lives and Christmas traditions, but it is also inspiring because of just how far we have gotten from this mindset and even lifestyle.

I love that this tradition and bit of history has been taught to me through Tyler’s family and that we will be able to pass it on to our future children.  I love that we honor the anticipation of the season, by not ‘urging’ the season & festivities to come quicker.  We wait to decorate our home with all the Christmas cheer until December 6th- before that we fully celebrate the whole season of Thanksgiving ;)  We open our stockings on Dec. 6th- filled with treasures of something good to eat, something wooden/useful, and something warm.  We remember and honor the true reason for this season of giving.  We eat, we are merry, and we are full of great cheer.

After St. Nicholas Day celebrations, we wait and prepare in anticipation to honor our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on Christmas.  This is a day {also with a small amount of presents exchanged} where we read the story of Christs birth.  We have a feast of thanksgiving, praise, and worship for God giving us eternal life through His Son.

{the book that we read from}

There is so much to say about the joys and benefits of honor, anticipation, celebration, and tradition.  I truly love the two different times of celebration and tradition in December {among other times in the year} we have as a family.  It speaks to me of peace, rest, and fully living in each moment- with a healthy joyful on-look to the next celebration.  This is a way that I believe we honor God’s heart and purposes.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!  May we all give thanks for the things and loved ones we have, and look for the many opportunities we have to give.

*Most of the information in this post was taken from http://www.stnicholascenter.org and some passages are direct quotes.  The photos are from various websites online*

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Drew permalink
    12.06.11 10:16 AM

    Wonderful post! Thank you for your words and insight, they are very inspiring to us over here in North Carolina!

    • 12.07.11 5:23 PM

      Thank you Drew! Glad you like it. I love sharing and hearing of family’s different traditions and the history behind them.

  2. 12.07.11 5:29 PM

    We love St. Nicholas Day. Let me tell you…you’ll love celebrating with kids.

    A great post, Alicia.

  3. 12.09.11 10:34 AM

    Loved reading your post! My 12 year old son argued with his cousin on a car ride with my brother, that St. Nicholas does exist. When the cousin tried to tease him about believing, he stood firm and held onto Nicholas! He understands the difference between Santa and St. Nicholas and enjoys sharing that part of his faith. :-)

    • 12.21.11 8:25 PM

      That is awesome and such a cute story! Good job at raising a determined and smart young man who is firm in his convictions and not afraid to stand by them. I hope to be able to tell stories of our future kids like this someday :)

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