I was out with friends recently and we chatted about Christmas stocking. It brought back a memory of Saint Nicholas Day from my childhood. Funny, I had not thought about this holiday in decades, but I can vividly remember the thrill and excitement of hanging my stocking along with my siblings one evening in early December. Even more exciting was waking in the morning and having the stocking filled with candies and small trinkets, especially since December 6 usually happened on a school day.
Being a lapsed Catholic, I did a little research to refresh my memory about Saint Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas was truly the first Santa Claus and he was a real person living around 300 AD. Orphaned as a child by the death of his parents in Turkey, he was raised by Christians and dedicated his life to service, giving anonymously to the poor and children. He became a bishop in the late third century, recognized as a saint in the 800s and Catholics in France began celebrating Bishop Nicholas Day in the 1200s.
Europeans were the first to celebrate St. Nicholas as the Feast of SinterKlaas on December 5. Children would put out shoes with treats for the saint’s horses in hopes of receiving candies and gifts. Also this date would correspond with the beginning of Advent, a Catholic tradition.
Most of the previous information came back to me while I was reading a couple of articles, but one new tidbit emerged about the symbolism of the candy cane. Apparently it represents St Nicholas staff and was left in the shoes of children, along with candy and toys to decorate their Christmas tree. I don’t remember ever hearing that before and find in quite interesting. More info about the tradition and lore of St Nicholas can be found here.
Lastly, I want to wish everyone a very joyous holiday season and peace, prosperity and creativity in the coming New Year. May your stockings be overflowing!
My work can be viewed on my website.