by Kit Gallagher
Did you know that in the Dutch language, the name Santa Claus means St. Nicholas?
Long, long ago, there really was a St. Nicholas who lived in the country we now call Turkey. When Nicholas grew up, he became a bishop who helped many people come to know and love Jesus.
Bishop Nicholas was a kind man. He healed the sick and saved people from drowning after a shipwreck. Instead of sending thieves to jail, he talked them into returning the things they had stolen.
Nicholas heard about a poor man with three daughters. The man had no money to give his daughters so that they could be married. The man was worried that his poor daughters would have no one to love and care for them. One night Bishop Nicholas put some gold coins in a small bag and threw the bag of money through an open window of the man’s house. Then he ran away.
The family rejoiced when they found the money, and soon the oldest daughter was married. A short time later, Nicholas again made a secret visit to the poor man’s house and left another bag of money. The family rejoiced again and used the money to help the second-oldest daughter get married.
The poor man began looking out his window every night. He wanted to thank the person who was saving his daughters from lives of loneliness and poverty. After a few weeks, Bishop Nicholas brought one last bag of gold to the house. But before Bishop Nicholas could run away, the poor man saw him, caught up with him, and thanked him again and again. The man told everyone he saw about Bishop Nicholas’ generosity.
Today we honor St. Nicholas on December 6. We imitate St. Nicholas when we share the gift of love and friendship with everyone we know, and when we help people in need.
* Share the story of St. Nicholas with primary students. Show the children a calendar and have them find Nicholas’ feast day on December 6.
* Ask students if their families celebrate any traditions on St. Nicholas’ feast day. For example, in some families, the children leave their shoes outside their bedroom doors before they go to bed on December 5. In the morning, they find that St. Nicholas left candy or a few coins in their shoes as a treat.
* Invite students to name specific ways they can follow St. Nicholas’s example of generosity and sharing. Praise them for their ideas and remind them that when we treat others with love, we live as Jesus asks us to live.
Kit Gallagher has served in catechetical ministry for nearly four decades.
Copyright 2013, Bayard, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of Bayard, Inc.
This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine, March 2013.
Image Credit: Shutter Stock 544541167