Near the beginning of every Advent, we celebrate the feast of a man who has perhaps had the biggest influence of Christmas apart from Jesus himself. Saint Nicholas is the man, myth and the legend of Christmases present and past.
A man who through his love for Christ spent his life generously helping others, we celebrate St. Nicholas every year on December 6. A bishop, friend, and penitent soul, the stories and legends left in his wake make us look to him in wonder.
If you’re looking this year to separate the man in red from the birth of Christ, celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas is a great place to start. While he may indeed have been holly and jolly, there is a lot more to the real St. Nicholas than his rosy red cheeks and hearty laugh.
A little history on a big man
Born in the third century, in modern day Turkey, St. Nicholas lost his parents at a young age. He used the wealth he inherited to help the sick and poor in his village. He was especially generous with children. Giving generously and anonymously, he became well known for his good deeds.
St. Nicholas had an incredible life. He was a bishop, endured prison and exile, and even signed the Nicene Creed. But he has been memorialized around the world as a jolly old man with a long beard and red suit.
There are many legends of good deeds done by St. Nicholas that have helped shape traditions of celebrations over the years. Families, couples and people all over the world enjoy spending the four weeks of Advent celebrating good deeds.
Why celebrate St. Nicholas’s feast day?
Leaving shoes out in the hallway to fill with special trinkets is probably the most popular activity to celebrate the feast of St. Nick. But did you know that this fast day isn’t meant to be celebrated by children alone?
St. Nicholas helped people of all ages, and would be thrilled to know that people to this day carry on the generosity of Christmastide. By celebrating him, we turn outward from ourselves and open our hearts more fully to the coming of Christ by serving others.
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Celebrating St. Nicholas prepares our spirits for a season of giving. By serving and helping others, we mold our hearts to be unselfish and ready for the coming of our savior. It can be a fun way to prepare for Christmas in a way that is focused on giving for the right reasons.
Celebrate with someone special
Church gatherings and homeschool groups aren’t the only ones having all the St.Nicholas fun this season! There are a lot of ways to celebrate the feast day as a couple, even if you’re a couple talking on an online dating app! Some activities to do together include:
- Pray this prayer of impetration to St. Nicholas together
- Print off copies of this St. Nicholas prayer and challenge each other to leave them all over town
- Have a contest! Print out a St. Nicholas wordsearch and see who finishes it first
- Pray this beautiful St. Nicholas Novena together
- Make and send your person some delicious St. Nicholas cookies
Feast days are more fun when celebrated together, so don’t hesitate to come up with fun ways to do so. Advent is the perfect time to grow closer, even if you’re online dating, to the person you’re getting to know.
Give back to the community
One of the most famous St. Nicholas legends is a story about three girls that were going to be sold into slavery because they were too poor to marry. Without a dowry, these sisters had no promise of finding future spouses.
The story says that St. Nicholas tossed three bags of coins through a window one evening and that they landed in the socks hanging above the fireplace. The girls’ lives were changed forever because of that one good and generous deed.
To truly inhabit the spirit of St. Nicholas this Advent, make a list of ways you can give back to the community. Doing so with friends, family or a significant other can help make it all the more fun.
Nudge your online dating partner to join in the challenge too.
- Volunteer in a soup kitchen
- Participate in a giving tree at your Church
- Gift a family member or friend something anonymously
- Start a Secret Santa group, but call it a Secret St. Nicholas group instead and share about his life
- Get a small group of people together to go caroling
Liven up your liturgical life
Are you increasing your Mass attendance this Advent? Adding more rosaries to your calendar? Prayers to you day?
In Lent there is no shortage of missions, and special offerings carved out specifically for us to prepare our hearts for the passion of Christ. Are you taking advantage of the same types of offerings in Advent?
They may not be as obvious as the stations and fish fries advertised throughout Lent, but they are there. Masses, rosaries, novenas and time before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament are all good ways to celebrate Advent.
St. Nicholas spent much time working on his faith. It was through his time with and serving Christ, that he was given the spirit to help and share his generosity with others. Use his feast day as a kick off to an Advent season like you’ve never experienced before!
End the year on a positive note
What a struggle this year has been. So how incredible it is to send it out on a high note. This Advent, let St. Nicholas lead you by his example.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, keep his spirit of giving at the heart of your Christmas season. Find joy by giving joy to others. You won’t be disappointed.
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