Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ready for St. Nick

St. Nick's Day* is December 6. Growing up, this was one of my favorite days. It kicked off the holiday season and offered a tiny little taste of what was to come on December 25. The night before, I would excitedly put a pair of shoes outside the front door, careful not to select the ones I had to wear the next day because those babies got cold. The next morning, our shoes would have small gifts like a book, fun socks (I still remember the E.T. socks I received one year) or a Christmas ornament. The tradition continued even after Sherri and I stopped believing in Santa Claus, and stretched into college as well. My mom would ship a box to my roommate who would dutifully fill the shoes I left outside my room door the night of December 5. A box continued to appear once I lived on my own, and one now shows up on our doorstep around December 4 with strict instructions not to open it until December 6. Over the years St. Nick has fine-tuned his offerings, and we typically receive a Christmas ornament that is in some way indicative of a major life event or experience from the past year. So, as you can see, St. Nick's is kind of a big deal in my family.

In addition to what my mom sends, St. Louis St. Nick also leaves a little something for Chip and Buddy as well. And now that Mary Clare is here, her little shoes get to join the line-up. I know she doesn't get it, and probably won't for quite a few years, but when have I ever let a little thing like practicality stand in my way?

Happy St. Nick's day to you. Here's hoping you don't find coal in your shoes.

*For anyone unfamiliar with the St. Nick's day tradition, here's a link to the always reputable Wikipedia, and here's a blurb about the tradition in the United States:
While feasts of Saint Nicholas are not observed nationally, cities with strong German influences like Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and St. Louis celebrate St. Nick's Day on a scale similar to the German custom.[5] On December 5, the Eve of St. Nicholas Day, each child puts one empty shoe outside their bedroom door or on a staircase before they go to sleep. The following morning of December 6, the children awake to find that St. Nick has filled their footwear with candy and small presents (if the children have been good) or coal (if not). For these children, the relationship between St. Nick and Santa Claus is not clearly defined, although St. Nick is usually explained to be a helper of Santa. The tradition of St. Nick's Day is firmly established in the Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis communities, with parents often continuing to observe the day with their adult children. Widespread adoption of observing the tradition has spread among the German, Polish, Belgian and Dutch communities throughout Wisconsin, and is carried out through modern times.

1 comment:

  1. You are only supposed to put one shoe out. Don't try to tell me that you were all so good this year that you deserve 2 shoes worth of gifts.

    St. Nick


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