Monday, 6 December 2021

Advent Photos 2021. December 6th and St Nicholas

Saint Nicholas, whose day is celebrated in many countries today,  was bishop of the city of Myra in Asia Minor in the fourth century. The governor of the city took a bribe to condemn three innocent men and the executioner was just about to kill them when Nicholas stopped him and forced the governor to admit his guilt.

 In the C6 the Emperor Justinian built a church in his honour in Constantinople and his shrine in Myra was a centre for pilgrimage until 1087 when Italian sailors stole his remains and took them to Bari in Southern Italy where another church for St Nicholas was built.
He became the patron Saint of sailors - hence this painting. St Nicholas Saving a Ship at Sea by Gentile Da Fabriano. Taken from my book about A Calendar of Saints.

 Saint Nicholas came from a very wealthy family and tradition says he gave away all the wealth he was left but prefered to do it by stealth - once throwing some money through a window and another time dropping a bag of gold down a chimney where it landed in a stocking (or a shoe). 
This story was taken to the USA by Dutch Protestant settlers and by a corruption of his name became Santa Claus. 
All through Europe in the Middle Ages December 6th was the day that churches elected a boy-bishop a custom that has carried on in many places. The boy would reign until the feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28th and Nicholas soon became the patron saint of children as well as sailors.

Back Tomorrow



  1. It's lovely to read about these lovely old traditions and histories. Thanks.

  2. In addition (from a Dutch lady living in Belgium): In Belgium, the children receive their presents on the morning of 6 December, not wrapped, and often already built up/set out. This is because Pete (St. Nicolas' naughty helper) has already played with the toys.
    In The Netherlands it's celebrated on 5 December with family, usually after an early dinner. Gifts are wrapped, many come with a poem (poking fun at the receiver), some are wrapped in special ways called 'surprises' and are also poking fun at the receiver, usually by wrapping it in something the receiver abhors (treacle, shrimp tails....) or highlighting a hobby (for instance a box made into a football pitch, where the gift is hidden in the box underneath the pitch, see here: ).
    The link leads to a picture of gifts that were exchanged by pupils at a primary school; the pupils drew a name of a classmate out of a hat and bought/made a gift for that person, the budget is usually really low, like €5.
    Some people celebrate a few times: close family, school, club, friends,....

    1. Poems and surprise gifts sounds a bit different, Hope you have a good day

  3. It's lovely I am learning so much from you.
    I got my tree up last night and now to decorate, I have singing this morning so it will have to wait until this afternoon. I have a lady coming shortly to pick up 7 blankets f have made for Project Linus a charity I support.
    Enjoy your day Sue.
    Hazel 🌈🌈

    1. Well done for the 7 blankets,
      Hope your singing was good

  4. Today will be an easy date for me to remember St Nicholas' Day because it is also my late Grand-father's birthday who has been on my mind lately, don't know why.

  5. Wonderful history of Saint Nicholas.

  6. I didn't know that St Nicholas was the patron Saint of sailors ... I should do I'm married to one. Fascinating stuff.

  7. A present you will always get in the Netherlands is the "chocoladeletter", the first letter of your name in chocolate. Find information on this fascinating site on St.Nicolaas:

  8. I did not realize he was the patron saint of sailors. Very interesting.

    God bless.

  9. Interesting that the true story of Santa Claus comes from St. Nicholas.