Sunday, December 5, 2010
SAINT NICHOLAS The Gift Giver
HAPPY SAINT NICHOLAS DAY TO ALL OF YOU WHO CELEBRATE!
Children around the world know and love St. Nicholas—for he brings gifts and treats in December. He is known by different names—and even looks different from place to place. But, it is the same St. Nicholas who delights with small surprises and good things to eat. Nicholas gave in secret, alert to others' needs, and expecting nothing for himself in return. It is this selfless generosity which seeks only the good of the other that made Nicholas' gifts the gifts of a saint. In the West the saint's image changed between the eleventh and twelfth centuries from a rather severe figure to the compassionate children's friend. There his main virtue came to be seen as generosity to children—rooted in the stories of rescuing the desperate maidens with gold for their dowries and of saving three children or schoolboys from an evil fate. Nuns in France began leaving treats on St. Nicholas Eve, December 5th, for the small children of poor families. St. Nicholas' gifts were usually good things to eat: apples, oranges, nuts, and eventually cookies and sweets. The custom quickly spread across Europe and St. Nicholas Feast Day, December 6th, was celebrated by both rich and poor. St. Nicholas' example still inspires acts of charity and generosity.