Growing up, my parents did an amazing job of celebrating the liturgical seasons in our home. During Advent, there were always Advent songs playing, a magnificent green tree in the corner, and the little Magi and Holy Family set on their journey from our parent's room to the living room. It really was a special time.
Many Catholic families fill their stockings on December 6th in commemoration of St. Nick’s feast day. Along with chocolate and goodies, my mom also put $10 into our stockings. We used that money to buy a gift for our “Secret Santa Sibling” at Christmas. However, my favorite tradition was when my siblings and I would all be doing homework or getting ready for bed, and suddenly my mom would say, “Did you guys hear that?”
There was a knock at the window, and all of us kids would stop what we were doing and run all around the house trying to catch the mystery sound, not knowing it was my dad and his friends. They used branches and long brooms to scratch on the windows outside, and finally, after nearly every window in the house was tapped, the front door would fly open and a big bag of chocolate would be thrown into the house. We all shouted and cheered, convinced that St. Nicholas had come and delivered gifts for us.
When Christmas rolled around, there was no one saying, “I’m going to stay up for Santa.” St. Nick had already had his special feast, so we were more focused and able to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. Looking back, I realized that our St. Nicholas Day celebration was just one way that my parents helped us kids stay Christ-centered during Christmas. They would also use our family prayer times to tell the story of the Holy Family making their long journey to Bethlehem. We were always anxious to hear about that great adventure St. Joseph, Mary and the not-yet-born baby Jesus took. Then there was also the excitement of altar serving for Advent masses. We were the closest ones to the wreath when our priest would bless it and light the candles.
These memories have stayed with me all these years, and they helped shape my love and understanding of the Christmas season. I hope that you're able to give your children their own special traditions that will deepen their love of preparing for this wonderful season!
Happy Feast of St. Nicholas, but even more importantly, blessings on your preparations for the coming of Christ. :)
(Married to Reanne, so technically a new member of the Cat.Chat family)
How do you celebrate St. Nicholas’s feast day? We’d love to hear about one of your favorite memories or traditions. Let us know in the comments below!