Saint Nicholas of Myra

Today is December 6.  Many people around the world celebrate December 6 as St. Nicholas Day.  

I don't ever remember not knowing that December 6 is Saint Nicholas Day.  I knew that our American Santa Claus has its roots in the very real St. Nicholas of Myra.  Growing up we didn't have a fireplace, so my sister and I didn't hang traditional stockings or put out our shoes on December 6th.  We did, however, lay out our own socks on December 24th.  Real socks. Not Christmas Stockings. That means they were little girl socks so not very big.  My other always put an orange in them and sometimes chocolate.  I didn't realize at the time that oranges and chocolate were very traditional St. Nicholas gifts.

Are you familiar with the stories and legends surrounding St. Nicholas of Myra?  St. Nicholas of Myra was a real historical figure though not much is known about him.  One story is about how he gave coins to a poor widower for daughters' dowries.  Another story is based on church history and the council of Nicaea.

If you are familiar with or love early Church history you may already be familiar with the story of how St. Nicholas slapped Arius at the council of Nicea. If you are unfamiliar with the First Council of Nicaea, it was the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church convened by Constantine to resolve the controversy caused by Arius who taught that Christ was a created being. Arius was condemned and exiled. The Nicaea Council declared that the Son was of the same essence as the Father, but Arianism wasn't fully resolved until the First Council of Constantinople in 381 (The Second Ecumenical Council) when the council declared the doctrine of the Trinity.  At this council, it was declared that the Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son.

But back to St. Nicholas and Arius at the First Council of Nicaea.  It is said that St. Nicholas was so agitated and outraged that he slapped Arius.  Nicholas was thrown in jail. I like Ms. Riggle's telling of the tale of St. Nicholas and Arius. She also talks about  St. Nicholas's restoration and presents evidence for and against whether or not the story is true.

Whether all the stories are true or merely embellishments, the man was real and these stories teach us that we should care for the poor and stand up for Christ's Truth.

Christmas Stockings for St. Nicholas Day

Supergirl loves St. Nicholas Day. Today we'll check the stockings and she'll find some "gold coins."  She might even find an orange or two.  We'll also take time today to read The Saint Nicholas Day Snow by Charlotte Riggle

Happy St. Nicholas Day!


Preparing our hearts for December (November Monthly Challenge Link up)

The Homeschool Review Crew hosts a Monthly Challenge with a theme for each week of the month.  The theme for the last week of November is Preparing our Hearts for December.

It made me think of Advent which is more preparing our hearts IN December but then I realized that Thanksgiving helps my family's hearts to prepare for preparing our hearts in December.

We celebrate Advent.  Advent is the preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Christ or Christmas. 

So how does Thanksgiving, an American holiday celebrating the Pilgrims coming to the New World, prepare hearts for Advent?

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks!

Well for me it is because I do not view Thanksgiving as just about the Pilgrims.  The Pilgrims had a feast because they had gratitude.  They were grateful for surviving.  They gave thanks to God.  

It is that same vein of gratitude, the gratefulness to God for all things, that girds my family's celebration of Thanksgiving. 2020 has been an especially tough year. It is difficult to set aside our grief and pain and yet the Apostle Paul writes "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."1 Thessalonians 5:18.

My circumstances in 2020 in no way compares to the trials the Pilgrims endured. I have not endured a bitterly cold winter. I have had plenty to eat, and a roof over my head. I have grocery stores and during the summer fruit and vegetable stands. Yes, we've had a death in the family.  Yes, we've been in isolation.  Yes, Covid-19 has affected and impacted our lives but God has used and continues to use people and circumstances working in them and through them to care for us and meet our needs.

Being grateful to God opens our hearts.  It prepares our hearts to seek a deeper relationship with Him and it leads my family into a desire to set aside the world to examine our hearts and to re-focus on why we need a Savior. 

One way to prepare our hearts for December is to create the advent chain that we use.  Each chain has a Bible reading.  These readings are from both the Old and the New Testament and point to our need for a Savior and God's plan to "save His people from their sins." (Matt 1:21).  We create the Advent Chain in November to prepare our hearts for preparing in December.

November Monthly Challenge