Thursday, December 4, 2008

From Thy Bounty Fair, St. Nicholas

Several years ago I had a husband who was newly received into the Catholic Church when I felt called upon to make our Advent as holy as possible. I wanted to immerse my young family in our beautiful Catholic culture and at the same time not overwhelm myself. Toward that end I focused that first Advent on a few feast days that I felt I could easily handle and in doing so began a loving relationship with Saint Nicholas. I read about this Saint and fell in love with his protective charity and willingness to sacrifice all for his faith. 

The simple tradition of leaving out shoes and filling them with small gifts appealed to both my overworked mommy syndrome and underfunded bank account. I was also anxious to separate our Advent observance from the whole "Santa Claus" madness that can overwhelm small children so easily. In Saint Nicholas we have the example of a penitential Advent that truly prepares us for the arrival of our Redeemer. 

This year, in my home, we are experiencing sacrifice and penance daily. I am toward the end of a difficult pregnancy and we are living, quite literally, in a construction site. All of our possessions except those that are absolutely necessary for survival are packed up and in storage lockers all over town. This includes all of our Christmas decorations, Advent wreath and calendar. We won't be baking or crafting and even our Christmas books are, with few exceptions, stored somewhere. So I wanted to host this fair in order to live vicariously through those families who have more beauty and less austerity this Advent season. I want to see pictures and read of traditions that I can share with my children and ask them to remember for next year. Next year when we have a nicer home and new baby to share our joy. 

So lets get to the fun stuff. I encourage everyone to visit the O Night Divine Celebrate with Saints page to see all of the posts, mostly written by the lovely and talented Jennifer Miller, about Saint Nicholas. There you will find everything you need to know both about the Bishop of Myra and how to honor him on his big day. 

Then you must visit Elena and let her show you the cute way she begins the feast day for her children. I love breakfast celebrations! 

And while we are talking about food; lets go visit Eileen whose first attempt at some traditional St. Nicholas day baking looks delicious. There is a sweet little face in those pictures that is pretty delicious as well. 

How about a cookie recipe from cookbook author Amy Heyd? St. Nicholas purse cookies are a perfect accompaniment to the day. (link inactive/removed)

Jessica does the whole thing up right, books, food, drinks and fun. Also a crafty food giftie to bestow on friends. 

More deliciousness can be found at Erin's blog, Growing with my Girls, both the sweet little girls and the pretty cookies are worth the trip. 

Over at Island in the Grove, Donna's celebration focuses on the tradition of leaving out shoes for St. Nicholas to fill with treats. I love Donna's Advent garden and her handmade St. Nicholas and horse figures. It looks like she created a beautiful heirloom to make her family's celebration even more meaningful. 

Mary has a sweet candy cane craft that your children will love. Mary also made some shortbread cookies decorated with a stamp and petal dust. Petal dust? Have to get me some of that. 

Barbara's Speculatius Cookies took her children's German teacher back in time to her childhood. To my mind that's the ultimate food compliment. I kind of covet the tea towel in the picture as well! 

Marjorie shares a wonderful post filled with ideas and recipes focused on St. Nicholas' native Turkey.  (link inactive/removed) 

Any observance of St. Nicholas Day has to include a trip Jennifer Miller's blog. Jennifer has been writing about St. Nicholas for fifteen years and is widely considered the go-to resource for all things Nicholas. The post I highlighted lists some of her best articles and I want you to try to make time to peruse them. 

Now if all of that did not give you enough to think about or you are feeling it's too late to pull anything off go visit the amazing website Saint Nicholas Center. There you will find stories to read and coloring pages to print and simple crafts to create. You must, while there, visit the spoon saint page created by my dear friend Alice

I hope that everyone has enjoyed this fair as much as I have. I also hope that whatever you chose to do to honor Saint Nicholas that the day brings happiness wonderful memories to your family. 

Saint Nicholas, pray for us.
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  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful collection of ideas to celebrate St. Nicholas of Myra. I am sorry I missed the deadline (life is crazy!), but if anyone would like some ideas focused on St. Nicholas' native Turkey here is a link to a post I did last year on our Turkish St. Nicholas feast.

  2. Mary Ellen, this is wonderful! Thank you for taking time out from your "refugee" lifestyle to put together such a wonderful collection of ideas. I love the family story with which you frame the whole Fair, and it was a delight to participate!

  3. Great job Mary Ellen!! I love all the links! Thank you!

  4. This is a wonderful resource for St. Nicholas Day! Thanks for putting it together, Mary Ellen!

    I am curious to find out how others present St. Nicholas... if you do the shoes filled with candy/holy cards/coins, do you tell your children that he really came and filled their shoes? Do you tell them that it is all make-believe? Or do you just kind of do it like a fun game, letting the kids enjoy it as a fantasy without really telling them that it's not real? My husband and I are trying to figure out exactly how to explain it all to our three year old, and how the secular Santa will fit in with all of this...

  5. Thank you so much for hosting this, Mary Ellen. It's a wonderful look at St. Nick culinary traditions.

  6. The post about St Nicolas's holiday ideas from Turkey was a link to a banking site. Nothing to do with the Catholic Church nor the holidays.

    1. Thank you for pointing this out. This post was originally published in 2008 and a couple of the links are now gone... I've removed them from the post.