I thought I'd paint an orange in honor of St. Nick Day. That is after I did a little research. With all the questions I'm getting these days from my kiddos I realized that I needed to brush up on my St. Nick knowledge. So here's a little background on that lovable guy--where the true story of Santa Claus begins. (The following is from the St. Nicholas Center.)
Nicholas was born during the third century in the village of Patara. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. Some of the popular symbols of Christmas started here:
Christmas stockings by the fireplace. And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there, goes the oft repeated Christmas rhyme. In the story of Nicholas rescuing the poor maidens from being sold into slavery, the gold dowry money, tossed in through the window, is said to have landed in stockings left to dry before the fire.
Orange or tangerine in the toe of filled Christmas stockings. The gold Nicholas threw to provide the dowry money is often shown as gold balls. These are symbolized by oranges or even apples. So the orange in the toe of the stocking is a reminder of Nicholas' gift.
Candy Canes. These are really candy croziers (bishops staffs), one of St. Nicholas' symbols. All bishops carry staffs, hooked at the top like a shepherd's crook, showing they are the shepherds who care for, or tend, their people.
Gift-giving in secret, during the night. Stockings are filled while children are sleeping. Nicholas did his gift giving secretly, under cover of darkness. He didn't want to be seen and recognized as he wanted those he helped to give thanks to God.
Seasonal concern for the needy.
St. Nicholas gave gifts to those in greatest need—the young and the most vulnerable. Christmas gifts and baskets given to those in need, along with other seasonal contributions to charity, reflect St. Nicholas' unselfish concern for others. He never wanted or expected anything in return.
The challenge in my house is to work on keeping the focus on the true meaning of Christmas, so especially today, St. Nick's our man. For anyone with kids in need of a Christmas commercialism break, here's a link to some cute St. Nick activities.
Happy December 6th!