Preparing for St Nicholas Day

There are mere days between today and our family’s favorite feast day of the year–St Nicholas Day! To say the children are excited is an extreme understatement.  I have been planning and picking up little bits and pieces here and there. So, I thought I would share my plans, and the handful of photos I took last year, and encourage you to embrace this beautiful tradition.

First, I need to put forth a disclaimer that this feast has grown and evolved in our family over a decade of time. We did not jump in with both feet the first year. Our celebration traditions began with simple gifts left in shoes. We still cling to the idea of truly simple gifts. One of the sweetest parts of this holiday is how excited the children are for tiny treats and how it helps us to turn our sights to Jesus, not to wants and desire for more.

Here is what the children are receiving this year:
Each child will receive a pomegranate lollipop (because I cannot bring pomegranates any where near this house with being found out!), a candy cane, a small bag of dried fruit (their request), and a Clementine. I also picked up a small ornament from the thrift shop for 12¢ each. The boys will each get a small car. For Buddy, I picked up a Hot Wheel that looks like a shark, and Little Man is getting a mini Viking race car.  Cowgirl will receive clip-on earrings from the thrift shop, because we have a $2 limit for gifts.   As a joint gift, because I always like to give a gift to share, I picked up a second hand copy of CCC video of “St Nicholas: The Boy who became Santa.”  Not very impressive of a list, in fact as I write it out, it seems even less  impressive. But that is the beauty of it, in a culture that always wants more and encourages chasing big, better, best, these simple gifts ground us and make us thankful for all the rich blessings we have.  The last gift the children will receive is $50 in cash to donate as they choose.

Next on my planning list is food. Typically, I plan three special meals. Since the older children are working at a craft fair this Saturday, I am only planning dinner. However, here is a sample menu for a typical St Nicholas Day in our home.

Breakfast: Hot Chocolate and treats from the shoes, along with a candy cane Danish inspired by Jessica’s. We use a roll of recipe crescent rolls, a package of softened cream cheese, and a can of cherry pie filling. Open and unroll the pastry sheet. Spread cream cheese on half of it, then top with cherry filling. Now, beginning on the edge with cream cheese and cherries begin to roll the pastry into a log.  Form the log into a crook shape and cut slits about every inch down the outside of the crook. Bake on 350° for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Lunch: This is the simplest idea. I discovered it at the St Nicholas Center years ago. Purchase a frozen pizza and some orange colored cheese slices ( we like to use large cheddar slices). Cut the cheese into the shape of a miter and place in the center of the pizza. Bake according to directions.

Dinner: We always fill a bowl with clementines and candy canes for the blessing. The clementines represent the bags of gold that St Nick tossed into the girls’ stockings, and the canes his shepherd’ s crook. This theme continues through our side dishes, glazed carrot “coins”, baked sweet potato “sacks”, and fruit salad to represent the sweetness of giving. Normally, we have fruited pork as our main dish. However, this year, we are trying chicken with spiced apples. Spices and sweets are the theme of the day. Of course, we drink more hot chocolate, as well.

Dessert: What? More Sugar? Well, yes and no. For dessert we build gingerbread houses and sometimes, happen to sample pieces of candy decorations or nibble  broken pieces. (And sometimes, Grammy who doesn’t believe in too much sugar, shows up with an ice cream cake!) The past couple years we have made graham cracker houses because they are much easier to construct and who really needs that many gingerbread houses.

Last up on planning is activities. We will definitely watch our new movie. We typically watch Veggie Tales St Nicholas. We read books about St Nicholas. (Below are some of our favorites, available here.) We also craft gifts for friends and family. Many years I bought craft kits, but then we amassed so many left over kits, that we began using those and supplementing with a project or two that I found online. The older children have been making plans for projects of their own. We are doing extra crafting on St Lucy’s Day this year. Pinterest is a great place to find easy, inexpensive projects, too. I am adding a St Nicholas board there, today.

St Nicholas Day is about spending time as a family, giving to others, and setting our eyes on Jesus as we quickly approach Christmas.  If you have any St Nick traditions, please share below. God bless!

I’m linking up with Catholic Bloggers Advent Link-up collection.

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