St. Nicholas visited the parish’s kindergarten classrooms today, speaking with the youngest students of St. Bernadette’s and St. Augustine’s elementary schools. December 6 is the saint’s day in the Church’s liturgical calendar. Nicholas, also known as “Father Christmas” in many countries, took questions from the children and read his story explaining how he came to be associated with the Christmas tradition of gift-giving.
St. Nicholas (b.270-d.343 A.D.) was a bishop of the ancient Church at Myra, modern-day Demre, in what today is the country of Turkey. There are many legends attached to him, and some ancient sources record his attendance at the Council of Nicaea in 325 where the apostolic faith was codified into the now familiar Nicene Creed.
While he is strongly associated with children in European and North American culture, in the Christian East he is celebrated as a patron of sailors. Myra, having been a port city, was likely home to a ministry to those who worked on the ships that sailed along the coasts of the Mediterranean; St. Nicholas is identified with this ancient “mission to seamen.” His following then spread from port to port eventually reaching such maritime nations as Holland where the legends of his generosity came to be celebrated in conjunction with the festive season of Christmas.