St. Nicholas of Myra
Feast Day: 6 December
Patron of Children, coopers, sailors, fishermen, merchants, broadcasters, the falsely accused, repentant thieves, brewers, pharmacists, archers, pawnbrokers, Aberdeen, Galway, Russia, Greece, Hellenic Navy, Liverpool, Bari, Siggiewi, Moscow, Amsterdam, Lorraine and Duchy of Lorraine
Troparion — Tone 4
In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, / an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; / your humility exalted you; / your poverty enriched you. / Hierarch Father Nicholas, / entreat Christ our God / that our souls may be saved.
Kontakion — Tone 3
You revealed yourself, O saint, in Myra as a priest, / For you fulfilled the Gospel of Christ / By giving up your soul for your people, / And saving the innocent from death. / Therefore you are blessed as one become wise in the grace of God.
There is already a wealth of information out there about St. Nicholas, and I would recommend looking up some of the websites I list below for loads of recipes and stories about the saint. Here I will just talk about we do in our family to celebrate his feast day.
We open our stockings on the morning of St. Nicholas day and have a big breakfast with chocolate coins on the side. We usually keep the kids home from school and do something fun together. We have several good books about St. Nicholas that we read, and we also add red berry strands to our green garlands and bring out our statue of St. Nicholas. We have never told our kids that Santa will bring gifts, but that the real Santa, St. Nicholas, is more alive than we are because he is in heaven, and we give gifts inspired by his generous spirit.
This day is also when we throw our annual teacher appreciation brunch, since St. Nicholas is the patron of children and we entrust our children to their care. We make St. Nicholas bread bundles, which remind us of the gold coin purses that he threw through the window of the maidens who wished to marry, as well as St. Nicholas soup and St. Nicholas punch. A few weeks beforehand, we work on making gifts for the teachers and a couple days beforehand we make and decorate St. Nicholas cookies to fill the teachers' stockings.
At our church, on the Sunday closest to the feast day, "St. Nicholas" comes to bless the children and hand out chocolate coins, and we all sing the hymn about Holy Father Nicholas.
We sing this traditional Eastern hymn:
O who loves Nicholas the saintly,
O who serves Nicholas the saintly;
Him will Nicholas receive,
and give help in time of need,
Holy Father Nicholas!
St. Nicholas Bread Bundles
I use croissant dough, form it into squares and fold the squares around the filling.
Beat together 1 large package (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 clove of garlic
1 cup finely chopped green onion.
Use, or cover and chill as long as overnight.
St. Nicholas Soup
2 ounces butter or margarine
2 leeks or onions
4 medium-sized carrots
half a medium-sized head white cabbage
1 teaspoon salt or more, according to taste
4 quarts water (editor's note: you may want to use less water)
Wash and peel the vegetables. Slice them into small pieces.
Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the vegetables and salt and stir a few times. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the water and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and allow the soup to cook slowly for about 30 to 40 minutes. Stir from time to time.