St. Nicholas' Day Family Traditions
This post was written by Creative QT's owner, Dana Sue Hinkle. To learn more about the Hinkle Family and the heart behind Creative QT, click here.
The Christmas season is usually a FULL one for a lot of people, and we are no exception. I have so many traditions that I love to do with our family for Christmas that is hard to fit them all in. And St. Nicholas Day is one of those traditions we love.
St. Nicholas Day is celebrated every year on the anniversary of St. Nicholas’ death, December, 6. St. Nicholas was an incredibly giving man, who represented empathy, generosity, and selflessness. There are many stories and legends out there about St. Nicholas, but from what historians can gather, he was born into a wealthy family in Patara, Lycia (modern day Turkey) in 270 AD. Nicholas, sadly, became orphaned at a young age after both his parents died from sickness. They left Nicholas a small fortune, and as an adult he generously gifted much of it as a blessing to others, specifically the impoverished.
One of the most widely spread stories of St. Nicholas' generous giving is that of a man with three daughters. In those days it was customary that the bride's family give the husband-to-be a dowry before they were able to marry. If a woman was not married by a certain age she was often forced into slavery. The man with the three daughters was not able to afford dowries for his daughters. Mysteriously, though, on three different occasions bags of gold were found inside the family's home. Thus, providing the needed dowries for these women to marry. Some say that the bags of gold were thrown down the chimney, others say they were left in the stockings the women had hanging by the fire to dry, and still other stories say they were left in their shoes. Hence, why people put out their stockings or shoes in hopes of finding them filled with presents on December 6th each year.
Our kids set out their stockings the eve of December 5th and in the morning they find them filled with chocolate coins (to keep with the St. Nicholas tradition), an orange (because my grandparents grew up in the depression era and have passed down to me how sweet and precious a fresh orange was to receive), an ornament (my favorite part!), and then each child will get a clue to lead them to a family gift (i.e. a board game, Holiday books, Shhh! This year they are all getting slippers!).
Our Christmas tree might not be the prettiest thing, but it does tell the sweet story of “us." We give each child an ornament that represents something of significance to them from the last year.
For example, we have an old pill bottle glued shut with tic tacs in it to look like pills from the time my oldest ended up in the hospital for a week with a ruptured appendix. We have a miniature bike from the year that our boy learned to ride his bike without training wheels. We have a baby shoe that our youngest girl wore when she was a baby with all of her 'stats' (birthdate, weight, length, etc.) on the bottom. We have a cast for a broken elbow made out of a toilet paper tube covered in athletic tape. Seriously, it can be anything. But the beautiful thing is that every year when we unpack our ornaments, we reminisce of all the sweet memories.
A couple tips on ornaments for your kids:
- 'Real' ornaments break, and kids love to hang them on the tree and play with them. So be mindful when buying or making them to make sure they are strong, durable, kid friendly materials;
- Check out the dollhouse department of a craft store, they have many miniatures that you can attach a ribbon to;
- Keep a notebook for each child and mark why you gave the child that ornament that year. It serves as a checklist to make sure you have them all when packing them back away, as well as a reminder, as to why you gave each ornament in years to come; and
- Label the name and year on each ornament with a sharpie marker.
So there’s the skinny on St. Nicholas Day with the Hinkles! 🎅 I love traditions, so please let me know what your family does to Make Time Together during the holiday season!
Creative QT designs quality + innovative toys that declutter homes and inspire creative play. Founded by parents of five, Adam and Dana Sue Hinkle, Creative QT’s vision is to empower parents and encourage a culture of families that Make Time Together. All products are designed to enrich families’ lives through active, creative play and play based learning. Creative QT products are laboratory tested for compliance with CPSC requirements and are free of lead, cadmium and phthalates so you can play with confidence. So, go ahead … today is the day: be your kid’s hero.
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Suzanne J On
I love this idea! My Mom used to read us the story of St. Nick every year around Christmas. I’ve been waiting to do that with my own kids because I haven’t found the right book yet. But this is such a great idea! Our only family tradition is chopping our own tree down in the forest. We’ve had quite a few Charlie Brown trees but it adds to the magic! My husband was given a Christmas ornament every year by his grandparents as a kid. When we got married, his Mom gave them all to us. I should start doing the Christmas ornament gift with my kids too! It’s been fun to see what my husband used to be into or still is!