Celebrating St. Nicholas Day

Happy Sunday, friends! I’m Sarah Baldwin
and I have a new “Sunday with Sarah” for you. Today I thought I would talk to you
about St. Nicholas, whose day is coming on December 6. It’s St. Nicholas’
Saint Day that’s celebrated in many countries around the world on December
6th and is of course what led to the modern idea of Santa Claus and to
the tradition of gift-giving at Christmas time. Here is a little wooden
Ostheimer figure of St. Nicholas. He was a bishop, born around the Year 240 AD in
Asia Minor which is now the area where Turkey is today, and he was known for his
acts of generosity and kindness and secret gift-giving. One story that’s
commonly told in Waldorf early childhood classrooms is about St. Nicholas
boarding a boat and bringing a boat full of food and supplies to
needy children and families. So I love St. Nicholas Day because it’s a lot
less commercial than Christmas and it’s not a big orgy of gift-giving and presents. I’ll tell you in a minute about the tradition that’s practiced in some
countries in Europe and many waldorf schools of leaving a shoe out for St.
Nicholas. And St. Nicholas was a real human being and is an example to us of
generosity and the idea we can instill in children at an early age that it is
better to give than to receive and to share our riches with others. So
traditionally the festival of St. Nicholas with children involves
leaving a shoe out on the night of December 5th, on the eve
of St. Nicholas’ day. And traditionally, a child would polish his or her shoe.
Now unfortunately, most children today don’t have shoes that require polishing
but you could prepare for St. Nicholas Day by choosing your child’s best shoe.
If it can be polished, that’s a wonderful activity to do in preparation or just to
clean it. If it’s a leather sneaker make it look nice. When I was a teacher
in a Waldorf school, we would do this in our classroom. In our classroom, children
all had a pair of slippers that they would leave at school and they would
each leave out one slipper on a rug. We’d put them in a circle the night before
and we’d come in the morning and their shoes had been filled with little
treasures. So traditionally the shoe might contain a “clementine” orange or a
tangerine, a small orange, in the toe. Also, gold coins. There are stories of St.
Nicholas leaving coins in people’s shoes which is how this
tradition started, so those chocolate gold coins, or “gelt” it is sometimes
called, are nice. I would always sprinkle a little glitter
around the room to add a little magic. And then you could put small treasures
in there, like a polished stone or small seashells and also some small toys,
similar to what you would put in a child’s Christmas stocking. So I brought a
few examples today of ideas for little shoe-sized toys. So one idea is a little
felted ornament decoration, like this. We have many varieties of these at Bella
Luna Toys, but we also have this St. Nicholas doll. This can be used as a doll,
as a puppet, as a decoration. It even has a little thread—it could be hung from a
Christmas tree, as a Christmas ornament. He’s a little bit bigger so he might fit
well in a bigger child’s shoe or or sticking out of the shoe. Here’s a
smaller ornament that would also be lovely: a little angel holding a star.
I’ll put links to all of these treasures that I’m about to show you below this
video. Another great shoe-sized treasure is a little spinning top like this. This
is our Flip Over Rainbow Top and it’s kind of like magic. A child spins it.
It spins round and round and round and then it will magically flip over onto
its spindle. Perfect size for a shoe and a wooden top, of course, is a great
classic gift at this time of year. And how about some little acorns?
These are nice fillers at Bella Luna Toys. We carry these Wooden Acorns. They
can also be painted for fun. And we also have felted acorns which have a real
acorn cap and come in different rainbow colors where the nut part is felted.
Or a Wooden Dreidel, because we know Hanukkah will follow close on the heels
of St. Nicholas Day, and is one of the favorite children’s holidays. It comes at
this time of year and the Wooden Dreidels that we carry at Bella Luna
Toys are just another great fit for a shoe. And little tiny Waldorf Dolls. We’ve
got Little Baby Dolls, this one comes inside a little heart. Would be a sweet
addition. Or one of our Pocket Baby Dolls. I don’t have one with me but we also
have Pocket Gnome Dolls that look just like this but have a white beard. Little
soft Waldorf dolls, another special treat you could put in a
child’s shoe. You could also include small little artistic creative treasures like
a stick of modeling beeswax. These come in boxes but we also sell these
individual sheets of natural colored beeswax. If you’re not familiar with
modeling beeswax, see my other video. I’ll link to it below on how to use it. You
warm it up in your hands and model with it like clay or playdough. Or this small
set of Bath Crayons that can be used in the bathtub on tile walls and easily
wipes off. So those are just a few ideas, I’m sure you can think of many
more. Pretty stones, polished stones, little shells and, as I mentioned earlier
it’s traditional to put an orange and gold coins—”gelt,” it’s sometimes called. So
I hope that gives you an idea of a new tradition you might start in your family
with your child and, as always, let me know if you have any questions, any
comments, any other ideas of how you celebrate St. Nicholas Day in your home.
Thanks for watching, I’ll see you again next time. Thanks for watching, I hope you
enjoyed this video. If you’d like to see more “Sunday with Sarah” videos, be sure to
subscribe to the “Sunday with Sarah” YouTube channel and click the little
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really appreciate hearing from you. Leave a comment below the video or you
can email me at [email protected] and I love hearing
your questions and answering them and maybe I’ll answer yours in a future
video. See you next Sunday!

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  1. It’s funny to hear this 🙂 here in the Netherlands we celebrate st Nicolas, aka Sinterklaas as big as you guys do Santa Claus 🙂 and it’s very commercial! Somewhere in november Sinterklaas arrives on his boat in every big city. It is also on the news and he gets his own show. We have a special tv show every day “sinterklaas journaal” (like a news show about him). Children do put their shoes out and recieve these things you speak about, but they can do it every night from the moment he arrives officially until december 6th. And on the eve of the 6th, children get a big bag filled with toys. Sometimes parents ask a neighbor to knock on the door and put the bag on the doorstep and then run away. Sometimes they ask a family member to dress up like Sinterklaas and let the toys be delivered “in person” by ‘the man himself’. We celebrate Sinterklaas very big, but are way less into the gift giving on Christmas. Most ppl anyway 🙂 we try to focus on the nativity story and family on Christmas.

  2. We are learning to make our own peg dolls! They will be perfect for celebrating this. Our family loves everything Waldorf! Thanks for all the videos. I am using them for our homeschooling and family rhythm.

  3. I love this one! I started a tradition of giving my twins their holiday pajamas from St. Nicholas then taking their picture for our holiday card in front of the tree in their pajamas that night. They also get a holiday book from him to read throughout the season. Peg dolls are another favorite.

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