Celebrating St. Nicholas Day



One of my favorite memories from the Christmas season is from St. Nicholas Day. I don't have room here to tell all of the stories about St. Nicholas, nor do I have time to go into all of the ways that both adults and children can become "little St. Nicks," but I highly recommend the book, To Dance With God, by Gertrud Mueller Nelson. This was my guidebook in establishing family traditions that centered around the Christian rituals. Ms. Nelson shares stories of how she celebrated Christmas in Germany as a child and in the US as a parent. She has great ideas about making the holidays not only fun, but also spiritually significant. 



The first week of December, we'd make gingerbread men, cut out to look like Bishop Nicholas. Then, early on the morning of December 6th (about 5:00am), I'd set a lovely table and light candles all through the house. I would make hot chocolate and place a cookie on each plate. Then it was time to turn off all of the lights in the entire house and carry a single candle to guide me as I woke up the family and brought them downstairs to see what St. Nick had left. Next to their plates, the kids would find the first small gift of the season. But, it wasn't the present they looked forward to. It was the whole experience. When Rebecca was old enough, she took over the job of waking us up. We would sit at the table and talk about doing kind things for others over the coming days leading up to Christmas (although I'm not sure how much of that they paid attention to). Still, there were many years when my children would tell people that St. Nicholas Day was their favorite part of the Christmas season--better than Christmas day itself. They might still say that! 


Here are some photos from today’s St. Nicholas celebration…


We had a special guest!



This brings back memories of past celebrations.


Beautiful candlelit tables...


Happy children opening the first present of the season...


If you'd like to start a similar tradition, here's my recipe for St. Nicholas cookies. Sometimes, tradition trumps health food! 


GINGERBREAD MEN


1/4 cup boiling water

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup white flour

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cinnamon

2 t. ginger

1/4 t. cloves

1/2 t. salt


Melt butter in boiling water, then stir in molasses and sugar. Beat in egg. Sift together the dry ingredients and combine with wet ingredients. Chill dough for at least 2 hours.


Heat oven to 350F. Roll out dough and cut into desired shapes. Decorate with raisins or chocolate chips either before or after you bake them. Your cookies can be thick or thin, but you'll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Bake about 8-10 minutes. Cool and frost.


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© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™