Walking through the hallway outside our nurses’ office, I asked our residents in the med. line if they had celebrated St. Nicholas Day as children, putting out their shoes. To my surprise, none of them had. As a child, St. Nicholas visited our home every year on the eve of his feast in early December.
Last year, we at St. Anne’s had an 18-year old German girl, Antonia Kerl, stay with us for about three months. This included St. Nicholas Day. On that occasion, she did a program for our residents on “Christmas in Germany,” sharing German food and customs with our residents. For the December issue of our newsletter, The Broadcaster, she also contributed a little article, featuring St. Nicholas as our “Saint of the Month.” It ran as follows:
St. Nicholas was born in 270 AD and died on December 6, 343. He was the Bishop of Myra (what we now call Turkey). Unfortunately, we do not have many details about his life. He is known for his good deeds for the society, and he ministered to the sick, the poor and the ones in need. Therefore, he is the patron saint of children, various peoples and regions and several professions. The feast day on December 6 is a big day in Germany. Children place their shoes outside the door and hope that St. Nicholas will come and leave small presents, such as chocolate, oranges or nuts in their shoes. In Germany, he is accompanied by Knecht Rupprecht, who is supposed to punish the children who did not behave throughout the year, whereas St. Nicholas rewards the good children.
To this day, even in the United States, St. Nicholas’ fine tradition of generosity continues. This afternoon, Sr. Elaine told us Sisters at lunch: “Don’t forget to put out your shoes tonight; but St. Nicholas has to go to Hugo’s (Grocery Store) quick first.” ~Sr. Christina Neumann, OSF
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