Brookfield7

All content, of both the original Brookfield7.com and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Do you celebrate St. Nick on Dec. 6th? It's very Milwaukee

Did you grow up celebrating St. Nicholas' Day? If so, you know to hang your stocking by the chimney on the eve of Dec. 5th!

St. Nicholas or St. Nick is relatively unknown in most of the United States. He was a Christian Bishop living in the Roman Empire in the early 300s AD. The holiday is a German custom and very much part of being a Milwaukeean.

When I was a little girl, we didn't celebrate Santa on Christmas morning, but we did enjoy hanging a clean sock up on the eve of Dec. 5th. Since we didn't have a fire place. we improvised by hanging our socks on the drawer handles of the mahogany knee hole desk. Hey, it kind of looked like a fire place!

It was always fun the next morning to see what mom and dad put into our stockings. Sometimes we would get a stuffed animal; sometimes golden foiled chocolate coins*--those were always intriguing. Once they forgot all about St. Nick until we hung up our socks. That year we got bags of home-popped popcorn, a pack of gum? and some quarters.

Why the chocolate coins? If you know the St. Nicholas story, you would know that he was said to have thrown money through an open window of a poor family's home, during the night. The family was poor and had no dowry money for their 3 daughters. Having no dowry back then meant they probably wouldn't marry, which also meant they would be sold as slaves or go into the oldest profession. The money was said to have landed on their socks and shoes drying by the hearth. It is interesting to me that he did this secretly--no pompous show of his generosity.

In remembering St. Nicholas' Day, oranges or apples often were given. They were to represent the gold St. Nick gave. That is why an orange frequently was put into the toe of a Christmas or St. Nick stocking. (Oranges used to be pricey fruit before the days of improved transportation and considered a real treat.)

I kept the St. Nick tradition alive with my son too. Unlike Santa's visit, which occurs on Christmas Eve, St. Nick occurs early in the month. There is no confusion for children as to where St. Nick fits into the nativity story. (It is rather like celebrating George Washington's birthday with cherry pie.) St. Nicholas Day is a just-for-fun holiday commemorating a real person, who was known for his kindness and good work. No need for all the tall tales, deceit, and subterfuge about how St. Nick is omniscient or makes it all around the world in one night delivering presents to good boys and girls.

No, St. Nicks can be celebrated and enjoyed in the full light of the truth and used to illustrate an important biblical truth that it is more blessed to give than receive. In fact, you could incorporate a secret good deed for a needy family as part of your celebration with your children.

Giving, rather than receiving, after all, is a message we all need to remember every day of the year.

Have a happy St. Nicholas Day!


St. Nick's Day Can be a Nice Little Surprise Milwaukee Journal, 1999 - Lots of nostalgia about Winkies and Drews Variety stores. (I still love to visit Winkies in Whitefish Bay!)

My favorite cucumber and tomato, aka Larry and Bob at Veggietales, tell a St. Nicholas story of sorts in their latest DVD: Saint Nicholas, A story of joyful giving. I have not seen it, but I do enjoy those Veggies.


*I got my chocolate coins this year at Aldi. They also had them in silver. The coin design was the Kennedy half dollar. Some years I have found foreign coins in various sizes. I liked these the best and threaded a gold thread through them to hang on my Christmas tree--as pictured. Gold was after all one of the gifts the Magi brought to baby Jesus.

Gold chocolate coins are also used for Hanukkah celebrations as the "Gelt"?

Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG...This is great history and I have wondered the origin and my parents did the same thing for all 5 off us kids. I was not sure but I thought this might be a catholic thing and now understand this may be more of both Milwaukee and some catholic history as well.

Thanks for posting!

10:34:00 AM  

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