By Rebecca Price Janney, Nov 30 2017 07:00PM
When our son was very young, my husband and I decided we wanted to emphasize the birth of Christ more than the popular legend of Santa Claus at Christmas. Oh, we let him have fun with Santa, we just tried to put him and gift-giving into perspective.
One thing we taught him in age-appropriate ways as he grew up, was how Santa Claus is also known as St. Nicholas, and that he is known by different names and celebrated in different ways by many nations. Our American Santa, and all the rest, are based on a very real man who lived a long time ago.
Nicholas was a bishop who lived in present-day Turkey. He was born in 270 A.D. and died in 343. He was known for his love of children and his generosity. There’s a story about a very poor family in his parish whose father couldn’t provide dowries for his girls to marry, which severely limited their options for the future. When Nicholas heard about the family’s situation, one night he secretly visited their house and filled the shoes they kept by a window with coins. How they rejoiced the next morning!
Every December 6th people around the world celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas. Many encourage the children in their homes to put their shoes by a door, and the next day they will be filled with coins, candies, and maybe small toys.
Our son is in middle school now, but this is still a family tradition we enjoy, and I hope he’ll pass it along to his family one day.