Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Putting Our Shoes Out Tonight

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Nicholas. The tradition in Germany and Scandinavian countries is to put your shoes out and St. Nicholas will come to your house and leave candy in your shoes. Some children put hay in their shoes for his horse. I am going to start this tradition because I like giving my boys chocolate and I want them to have an alternative story to connect with Santa Claus. I really don’t like how Santa is so connected with shopping in our country these days. In Holland Dutch children put their wooden shoes out for St. Nick. My cousins lived in Holland for several years when we were children and when they came back to New York they all had several pairs of wooden shoes. The every-day ones they used to do their chores and take out the trash. I was so jealous of that! The nice, beautifully painted ones they put out on Dec. 6 for St. Nick. I always wished I had such nice wooden shoes. My mother has a pair her sister brought back for her. One of these days I am going to get some.

We have The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi in our library. The artwork is stunningly beautiful. The paintings are in the style of gilded wood cuts. The story of the saint’s life starts out with his birth in the year A.D. 280 in Patera, Lycia (Turkey). He performs his first miracle on the first day of his life when he stands up in the bath and prays to God. It is a little hard for me to read this to children because it seems so ridiculous. It says as a toddler he refused to nurse on holy saint’s days in order to fast. That is just silly. The thing I like about the story is that as an adult he inherited great wealth from his parents and he gave it all away. He is the patron saint of children, seafarers, prisoners and captives, pilgrims, travelers, maidens, choirboys, firefighters, stonemasons, weavers, and butchers. The book goes through his life as a priest and bishop and tells of his travels and miracles. It is very informative although some of the miracles I would skip if I were reading it to young children. (A time came when Myra suffered a great famine and people were starving to death. A wicked innkeeper kidnapped three little boys, killed them, and salted them in a tub of brine, intending to serve them as food. But Nicholas, who loved children, learned of the evil deed and imprisoned the innkeeper. Then, praying to his Lord, Nicholas raised the boys’ bodies from the brine and restored them to life. From then on, Nicholas became the patron and protector of children.” I think we will just focus on the gifts and the chocolate.

Here are some interesting sites about St. Nicholas.

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1 comment:

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

It says as a toddler he refused to nurse on holy saint’s days in order to fast.

Hah! I interpreted that to mean that St. Nick was a "lazy nurser."

P.S. My word verification is "cupgoy."