Wednesday, December 03, 2008

St. Nicholas Day is Coming!

I've recently added a printable template and tutorial for making paper shoes for St. Nicholas Day. You can get the template here, and the tutorial here.

You have just three more days to get ready! December 6th is the feast day for St. Nicholas, the historical figure many believe is the model for Santa Claus. In some parts of the world, including the Netherlands, St. Nicholas Eve, rather than Christmas, is the big gift-exchanging day. Children put out their shoes (or in some places, put out their boots or hang their stockings), perhaps filled with some hay for St. Nicholas's white horse, and in the morning find their shoes filled instead with candies and small gifts. You can read about St. Nicholas Day customs in many countries here.

While I generally favor any holiday involving chocolate - and in the Netherlands, one of the big customs involves giving children large chocolate initials like these - I celebrated it somewhat inconsistently with my own kids. Keeping track of the advent goodies, gifts for family, friends, and teachers, gratuities for the various helpers in our lives, etc. seemed like more than enough.

But I do wish now that I'd celebrated it after all, a change of heart largely due to reading my friend Julie Stiegemeyer's informative and touching book about the saint, Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend.

And today I came up with the perfect way for families to get involved in this shoe-centered holiday: giving shoes to people who need them. You can get in touch with local charities that distribute clothing to needy kids and donate new shoes (or gently used ones if you can't afford to buy new ones) for a child near the age of your own. Winter boots are often badly needed this time of year as well. Make the gift extra appealing by removing the pesky tissue paper that some parents (who shall remain nameless) might accidentally forget about, thereby forcing their child to have painfully cramped toes. And then fill the shoes with small wrapped goodies before you drop them off. Most kids like shoe shopping, even if they balk at other errands, and what kid will object to a trip to the toy store or Dollar Tree? Especially if you remind them that St. Nick is watching and is sure to be pleased with how cooperative and generous they are.

Alternatively, you can donate money, your old shoes, or new shoes to this great organization, Soles4Souls, that distributes footwear to the estimated 300 million kids around the world that don't have any shoes. You can read all about the organization here.

In honor of St. Nicholas, I'm pledging to donate $5 (up to $300) to the organization for every comment on my blog between now and midnight December 6th.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! That's me laughing hysterically about the idea of getting 60 comments in two days.


myra said...

I never knew about St. Nicholas day. I think I will have to incorporate some of these customs with my son.

And Soles4Souls sounds like a wonderful organization. We have something similar here where they distribute slippers (flip flops) instead, because most kids here rarely wear shoes.

Julie Stiegemeyer said...

I've been absolutely loving your Advent posts! I've made the Scandinavian baskets before (you probably taught me), but I've not seen the mushrooms. Adorable! Have you heard of The Church Mice at Christmas by Graham Oakley? (I'm sure you have). It is wonderful! An instructor I work with shared it with me. So cute! And thanks for plugging the St. Nick book. :)

Mandy said...

What a great idea! I've been searching for ideas on how to celebrate St.Nicholas day with my two children this year...rather than what "Santa" can do for them, what they can do for others. I'm looking forward to looking around your blog!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your ideas and history on St. Nicholas.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the fun ideas and history. I look forward to reading your books and Julie's. Thanks for your donation! I will do something similar with my girls, who didn't get their shoes out early enough this year (I just remembered this morning that it's St. Nicholas Day).

Anonymous said...

I just found your lovely site. I realise I'm late, but Happy St Nicholas day, hope you got goodies in your shoes.

Carol Baicker-McKee said...

Thanks for all the nice comments - glad this is a helpful post, and I hope everyone had a lovely celebration.
Forgot to make my shoe donation yesterday (bad me) but will do it today!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm 4 years late posting...but just came across this today as I am just discovering the traditions of St Nicholas Day for my 2 year old. What a great idea to donate shoes stuffed with small gifts.