*under construction*

06 December 2008

The Feast of Saint Nicholas

Did you leave your shoes outside your bedroom door last night? Afterall, it was the Eve of the Saint Nicholas Festival, or as some call it - the Feast of Bishop Nicholas, which is ... today!

After years of celebrating these festivals in my son's European based school, we, out of habit, and out of love, still practice them to this day. The Nicholas Festival was one of those beautiful ways to guide young children in good ways to live. St. Nicholas was a 4th century bishop in Lycia, who cared about people in need, especially children. His whole life demonstrated love and care for others.
My son still leaves his shoes outside the bedroom door on the 5th of December, and even though he wasn't here last night, this morning, (thanks to the secret network of grown-ups) there would be, (hopefully) to his delight, the same chocolate coins, walnuts that have been sprayed gold and various small treats that have always mysteriously appeared in a small basket next to his shoes year after year. (There is NO way I'm putting anything INSIDE those shoes, especially something that is to be eaten! LOL).

This tradition for us started way back in Kindergarten, and on the day of December the 6th, in school, (A parent dressed as) Bishop Nicholas, donned in beautiful blue and white silk robes with white fur trim laden in stars of gold, a white fur mantle, a tall, curved golden staff and his regal Bishop's miter crowning his long grey locks, would visit the classroom along with his helper. They would open his big, heavy, antique book, flip through the gold leaf pages and look up each child by name.

One by one the children would come forward, some with gifts of their own - a poem, a song, a little stone found at the beach, a feather dropped from a flying bird- and Bishop Nicholas would carefully check his book - not for naughty and nice per say, but rather for the strength and weakness of character for the child standing before him. (With the teacher's prior help, he knew these things, you see) He then commended the child on what was written in gold, following their individual name -- their greatest strength -- and they all were so proud! ...and then lovingly spoke of an area in which the child could use some growth and work - a weakness, if you will - and make it clear that he expected to see improvement in that area when he returned the next year. (photo credit: Hollywood Steiner School - where their Bishop wore gold)

A wonderful feast ensued afterwards with much talk of all the strengths and some contemplation of the children over how they were going to bring improvement to the area that needed work, all while sharing in food and fellowship of a wonderful and strong community of family and friends.

What do you feel are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? I think mine are compassion and impatience, and I am going to definitely work on the impatience issue - but I don't have the patience for it right now. Pffft. =)


jerseygirl211 said...

Again Isa, The story is heart warming and your writing made me feel as if I was right there. Do you know if this tradition is still performed? So many of those wonderful things that we grew up loving have been done away with.

I miss Christmas Eve with my mother, she always made it so special. She would have us all join in and sing Christams songs as we decorated the tree. When it was finished and time for us to go to bed, she always ended the evening with a song titled, SANTA BRING MY MOMMY BACK TO ME. When I grew older, I think I knew why she sang that song. She was a single parent and couldn't afford to buy us everything we wanted from Santa. I believe that she hoped that maybe if we didn't get some of the things on our list, that we would think of those children that wouldn't get the ONE thing that they wanted the most.

My mother died a month after Christmas, I was twelve, so that song became even more special over the years and I sang it every year to my children too.



jerseygirl211 said...


Oh, I don't want a choo-choo, a wagon or a sled, underneath my Christmas tree, but if you want me to be gooder than good, Santa bring my mommy back to me.

Now most kids want a choo-choo, a wagon or a sled, they want almost everything they see, but if you want me to be gooder than good, Santa bring my mommy back to me.

In the evening, when my prayers are said, I'm afraid to turn out the light, cause there's no one to tuck me into bed, to whisper darling good night, sleep tight.

Now what good is a choo-choo, a wagon or a sled, they can't take me where I want to be, but if you want me to be gooder than good, Santa bring my mommy back to me.

vicki archer said...

Such a lovely story Isa and a beautiful tradition and I do so love tradition. Thank you for your lovely comments on French Essence and entering the giveaway. xv

The Muse said...

I did enjoy this post!