Celebrating Saint Nicholas is important to me. It's a big tradition in Belgium where Santa Claus was not even known when I was a child. By now people know of him, but he still is not the person who brings presents, etc. On christmas day, your family may give you gifts, but on december sixth, the good holy man comes.
The last few years we have attended a Saint Nicholas festival at the Orthodox Church in Columbia of the Holy Apostles. I have been so grateful for their hospitality, their graciousness and their celebration of this Saint.
This year however, our Parish hosted an advent celebration on december fifth, which included a visit from Saint Nicholas. Of course we could not miss that. I helped by participating in the set up, and by baking a few dozens of traditional speculaas cookies in the shape of Saint Nicholas.
The cookie cutter was bought from the Saint Nicholas Center Website, and I plan to add to my collection next year! The cookies were all devoured (okay, I kept a few back for my husband, who devoured the rest of them) and Joseph had a nice visit with the good Saint who gave him a sock filled with gold (chocolate) coins and a rosary.
In the evening we all had to put our shoe in front of the fireplace and long after everyone had gone to bed Saint Nicholas came in and filled the shoes with special candy and gifts. Again there were the coins that refer to one of the stories about Saint Nicholas providing dowries for poor women, as well as speculaas likening of him and a marzipan orange to symbolise generosity.
Joseph received MANY gifts. And mama, dada and Ama must have been pretty good as well! Joseph really enjoyed discovering everything, managing to sneak at least 4 pieces of chocolate in his mouth before mommy intervened. He received a camera (which he adored as you can see. An ornament in the shape of a train, many books and a calendar. Mommy received a knit shawl and a mug with her beloved husbands picture on (SO thoughtful!) Daddy received many cans of nalu, an energy drink he loves that he can't get in the US, a Star Wars ornament and a pair of brown, manly ovenmits, since he usually is the one who gets the pizza out.
Ama received a photo bag and an etui for her knitting needles.
It was such a fun time to discover everything in our pajama's. It was even more suitable to go afterwards to mass for advent celebration. And in the late afternoon, we set up our tree. Joseph helped hanging his own ornaments in the tree and was enchanted by the pretty lights....
A fitting celebration for the advent Saint I believe, and a good start for Christmas. I think we will add 'put up the christmas tree on Saint Nicholas day' to our family traditions!