December 4, 2015

Christmas Celebrations: History of Santa--Saint Nick

Though there is much commercialism in Christmas, this doesn't have to be a battle of Santa vs. Christ. There is room enough for both. Let's find out...

So, Who is Santa?
Why does he get so much attention during a season in which we celebrate Christ?

Nicholas (later called Saint Nick) was born around 3AD around Greece and Turkey. He was a good man that dedicated his life to serving God and helping others. There are many stories about his life and what he did and you can read more viable sources than me, but it boils down to a few points:
 - he delivered bags of gold at night, unbeknownst, to a poor man house who needed money for his daughters' wedding dowry.
- he was said to protect children and help restore them to their families and wholeness (kidnaped, hurt, etc.)
- and more stories...for which he became a saint by the Catholic Church (and interestingly enough he was at the council of Nicea)
- Source:

So...knowing this, Santa is based on a historical example of CHRISTLIKE service. Santa is a type or symbol for Christ. If we teach our kids this, then both help reinforce the principles of service and giving. Christmas doesn't have to be only about toys and wants. We can create more meaning as we present information and traditions with purpose and good discussion--as we bridge the Santa-Christ-divide.

So...where to from here?
We celebrate St. Nick the first week of December. I normally do this by telling a simple story of St. Nick secretly delivering bags of gold. And we put out holiday slippers with a tangerine, whole nuts, german candies and a simple wood toy. It's nice because my kids can wear their slippers all month and remember st. Nicks service...their socks become a symbol. How much more meaningful is having a tradition and story behind they "stuff" kids get! Also, we put the whole nuts on the table and that is what we eat all month for snacks during the day. This is so fun for kids...easy way to pass the time, they don't just scarf down food, but slow down and have more conversation, and they try new nuts not usually in our home. The tangerine reminds them of the gold. And a simple toys because st. Nick gave. Typically in some European countries, kids put strW or carrots in their slippers before and then st. Nick trades it for the goodies. I like this because I try to teach my kids the reciprocal nature of giving and that we should always give back to those who gave to any form.

There are other things you can do, but go explore and find out what you'd like to try, that works for your family. And I suggest you just do those things you think would be fun and meaningful...otherwise things are more work than joy. And celebrations should be all fun and bring unity to all involved!
Then Christmas can more simple and focused on Christ because Santa has already had his focus. 

So...just to cap it off. December sixth is the official St. Nick's Day. It is the day he died. Fitting, right? If we celebrate a good man who showed us an example of trying to be CHRISTLIKE on the day he died, then we look forward the rest of the month to the life and birth of Christ. Death is but a new beginning this season!

Enjoy new beginnings!
Let's say "no" to the commercialism of Christmas and create meaningful events and traditions to more fully find joy, unity and peace this December--as we journey towards Christ and seek to give him true gifts this season.