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Follow St. Nicholas’s Example This December 6th

November 7, 2018 | By Louis Tully

We’re all very well aware of such holidays as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But as some have come to find, it’s the lesser-known holidays that are really worth high acclaim. You’ve heard of St. Nicholas, right? The big jolly old man, red coat, white beard, likes evening sleigh rides in the sky? That particular Saint Nick is only real in the minds of children, but there’s another Saint Nick who is (or was) very real and perhaps is the very man who inspired the timeless legend of Santa Claus. This December 6th, take a moment to recognize and learn about the man of whom all of this gift-giving and jolliness all started.

Who is St. Nicholas?

St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who made it his primary mission in life to give to the needy. Born in present-day Turkey in 280 A.D., St. Nicholas became an orphan at a young age and used his inheritance to help those who suffered like he had. His life of charity drew so much attention that the story of St. Nick fell quickly into legendary territory after his death. Here are few well-researched facts about the man behind the white beard.

  • As a patron saint, St. Nicholas helped many people from all walks of life; sailors, explorers, children, and even criminals.
  • He served as a bishop in Myra (present-day Demre, Turkey).
  • It is believed that St. Nicholas died on December 6th 343.
  • The Dutch adopted the story of St. Nicholas, referring to him as ‘Sint-Nikolaas’, which stirred up the nickname, “Sinterklaas” after coming to America in 1700.
  • It was common practice among the Dutch for children to leave out their shoes the night before December 6th. The next day, they would discover gifts had been left there for them.

The Legend Continues

In the 18th century, the story of St. Nicholas was so inspirational here in America that it spread like wildfire. Cartoonists drew up pictures of a fat, jolly old man, wearing a big coat and carrying a bag full of toys to leave for children. Poets wrote stories about him leaving gifts for good girls and boys and leaving lumps of coal for those who misbehaved. The legend of Santa Claus was adopted into the Christmas holiday and, as we all know, is still celebrated today with just as much enthusiasm.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day

Though St. Nicholas Day and Christmas are both celebrated this time of year, they are two different celebrations. On St. Nicholas Day, we celebrate the man who started the idea of giving gifts and charity to those in need. On Christmas, we put those practices into action. If you want to celebrate St. Nicholas Day, a good way to do it is to merely help somebody in need. Give your time, your words or even gifts to someone who clearly needs it. By celebrating in this way, we can maybe learn to act on kindness the whole year through.

It’s said that those who give are setting themselves up for blessings ahead. If that’s true, then anybody reaching out for an installment loan to keep their finances afloat might actually benefit from giving more. Giving doesn’t have to come from your wallet. Simply giving your time or your words of encouragement, for example, is worth more than anything you could buy for someone. Remember that like Christmas, it’s not about the gifts, but the love that’s behind the act of giving them in the first place.