December 6 is the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas, a third century orphan who became known for his generosity to those in need, especially children.
The story begins in the town of Patara, on the southern coast of Turkey. Nicholas’ wealthy parents died in an epidemic when he was still young. He sold all of his inheritance and gave to the needy, sick, and poor. He was made the Bishop of Myra while still a young man. He died on December 6, AD 343, the day that would eventually become a day of celebration.
After his death, stories and legends began to circulate about the kind of acts of St. Nicholas. Some stories told of his gift-giving to those in needs. Some stories told of how he protected children. Some told of his goodness to all in need, whether they be rich or poor, victims, captives, thieves or murderers.
Throughout the centuries, Europe kept alive the legends of St. Nicholas and the stories of his goodness. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed up as the bishop, begging for money for the poor. In Holland and Belgium, St. Nicholas rode a white horse as he gave out gifts. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes, hoping St. Nicholas’ horse will come to visit them, exchanging the carrots for small gifts.
As many Europeans immigrated to the United States in the 1800s, they brought their St. Nicholas traditions with them. The celebrations have evolved over the years, but each Christmas season, St. Nicholas is remembered as children lay out their shoes on December 5th, hang out their stockings on Christmas Eve, and squeal with delight at the gifts from the generous Saint Nicholas, the defender of the weak and protector of the small.
This Holiday season, you have the chance to give generously, just as Saint Nicholas did.
It truly is the season of giving. Whether it’s giving the gift of memories with a gift card or making time for loved ones over the holidays, stop in for some holiday fun. Channel the Saint Nicholas spirit this Christmas and join us in giving back to the community. See how you can make some holiday memories at Odyssey Fun Center here.
*Information courtesy of the St. Nicholas Center: www.stnicholascenter.org