St. Nicholas’ Day

Today (Dec. 6, regardless of what appears above) is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra, Bishop and Confessor. When my maternal grandmother was a girl, children received gifts from St. Nicholas on the morning of his feast day. The children set out their shoes on the night before. I think they filled the shoes with hay for St. Nicholas’ horses. In the morning, they found the shoes filled with oranges, apples, and nuts. That’s how St. Nicholas was celebrated in one German-American Catholic family in the Driftless Area, 40-50 years before Vatican II.

This Old World Catholic tradition was remembered in Wisconsin through the year 2000 at least. When I was a freshman at Marquette, the Residence Assistant in our dorm set small gifts of candy from our parents outside our doors on the morning of St. Nicholas’ Day. We were in the midst of finals and looking forward to Christmas break. It’s a fond memory.

Here’s a Wikipedia article about traditional St. Nicholas’ Day celebrations in German-speaking countries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas_Day#German-speaking_countries St. Nicholas is sometimes called St. Nicholas “of Bari” because his relics were translated from Myra to Bari in the Middle Ages to be safe from the Mohammedans. Here’s an article about the saint under this title: http://reginamag.com/saint-nicholas-of-bari/

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