I don’t want to end this day without a quick note about St. Nick’s Day.
Reading today about how St. Nick’s is celebrated in Cincinnati and other parts of the US, I learned that when Thomas Nast drew his first images of Santa Claus in January 1863 for Harper’s Bazaar, he drew inspiration from the likeness of St. Nicholas of Myra (also known as St. Nicholas of Bari), a bishop of Greek descent born in present-day Turkey at the end of the 3rd century AD.
A famous legend has it that St. Nicholas helped the girls of a poor man when their father was thinking of selling them into prostitution by throwing a bag of golden coins through a window three nights in a row, so that each of the girls could have a dowry and get married. As I write this I’m thinking about a really nice fresco depicting this story in a church in Bucharest, but right now I can’t remember where I saw it.
He has become the patron saint of children and students and his fame as someone who liked to give secret gifts turned him into the model for Santa Claus.
Here in Romania St. Nicholas’s Day on Dec. 6 is the start of the Christian holiday season, with sweets and fruit left in children’s boots on the eve of this saint’s feast day. I’ve always taken great joy in discovering these sweets when I lived close to Mom and she could sneak away to do the deed undetected, and I was actually saddened this year that she didn’t squirrel away any sweets for St. Nick’s.
We did enjoy some amazing artisanal ice cream at one of the malls here, though, and also saw a good movie: King Richard, about the father of tennis players Venus and Serena Williams.
But anyway, despite claims online that St. Nick’s is a German and Dutch holiday, transplanted onto American soil by German and Dutch immigrants, it appears to be alive and well in these (Orthodox Christian) parts as well.
Do you celebrate it in your country? And if yes, how?
To a happier, healthier life,