St Nicholas: What is the history of this Christmas emblem?

St Nicholas: What is the history of this Christmas emblem?

Publié le : 2022-11-07 14:42:19
Catégories : Religious News

  • What is the meaning of Saint Nicholas?
  • What is the difference between Father Christmas and Saint Nicholas?
  • Why pray to Saint Nicholas?
  • What is the story of Saint Nicholas according to the Bible?
  • Who celebrates Saint Nicholas?
  • How is Saint Nicholas represented?
  • Why is Saint Nicholas red?
  • Whose patron saint is Saint Nicholas?
  • What are the different traditions for celebrating Saint Nicholas?
  • Tradition in Lorraine
  • Tradition in Belgium
  • Tradition in Germany



St Nicholas' Day is inspired by a real person: Nicholas of Myra, who was born in southern Turkey (at the time Lycia) between 250 and 270 AD. His mission was to look after children, with whom he was kind and generous.

What is the significance of St Nicholas?

According to the Christian religion, St Nicholas is the patron saint of children. His feast day is on 6 December, which is also the children's day. He is the patron saint of children because he holds the miracle of having resurrected three children.

According to legend, St. Nicholas comes to visit the children on the night of 5-6 December to make sure that everything is all right. On the evening of 5 December, the children take care to leave him a glass of milk (or wine) to regain his strength and they add a carrot and sugar cubes for his donkey, which accompanies him.

To thank them, St Nicholas traditionally brings them gingerbread, oranges, sweets and some small gifts.

What is the difference between Father Christmas and Saint Nicholas?

The question of the resemblance between Father Christmas and St Nicholas is often asked, as the representations of these two characters are quite similar. Father Christmas is a mythical creature, created for children and to bring a bit of magic to this period, whereas Saint Nicholas really existed as he was a bishop of Myra, a trading city in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) in the 3rd-4th centuries.



Why pray to Saint Nicholas?

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of Lorraine, but he is also reputed to be a cure for rheumatism, sciatica and sterility.

What is the story of Saint Nicholas according to the Bible?

St Nicholas, or also called Nicholas of Myra, was born between 250 and 270 AD in Patara, Lycia, which is now southern Turkey. He was bishop of the city of Myra. 

St Nicholas was known for his kindness and for example, he holds the miracle of having resurrected three children who had been killed by a butcher.

In the popular story, three children wanted to take shelter from the cold and went to a butcher. The butcher killed them, after which he was visited by Saint Nicholas who resuscitated the children and forced the butcher to come with him.

He died in 345 AD.

The relics of St Nicholas were kept in the church of Myra but were taken to Bari in Italy by the Crusaders. Later, a knight from Lorraine retrieved the relics and brought them to Port. The town of Port then became a place of pilgrimage, and was renamed Saint Nicholas of Port.

He is celebrated on 6 December (the day of his dormition) and on 9 May (the day of the transfer of his relics).

Who celebrates Saint Nicholas?

Saint Nicholas is traditionally celebrated by the people of Lorraine, Belgium and Germany.

How is Saint Nicholas represented?

St Nicholas is represented in the same way depending on the tradition and the country, he is dressed as a bishop with a long coat, a crosier (St Nicholas' cane), a mitre (the equivalent of St Nicholas' hat for children) and a long white beard. He is sometimes depicted in purple but more often in red. 

Why is St Nicholas red?

St Nicholas' habit is most often represented in red or purple, depending on the period and the region. As St Nicholas was a bishop, it is perhaps in the symbolism of the liturgical colours that we must look for the origin of the colour of his costume. Red is the colour of giving and love.

Whose patron saint is Saint Nicholas?

In popular belief, Saint Nicholas is known as the patron saint of children but also of the people of Lorraine.

What are the different traditions for celebrating Saint Nicholas?

Saint Nicholas is a tradition celebrated by several countries as mentioned above, indeed, each country has its own customs and habits during this festival. 

Tradition in Lorraine

In Lorraine, Saint Nicholas visits the children, accompanied by his donkey, he usually offers them gingerbread, chocolate, mandarins or cakes. 

Tradition in Belgium

In Belgium, it is a tradition that on the night of 5 to 6 December, children place their shoes at the entrance of the house or in front of the fireplace. St Nicholas visits them with his assistants when they are asleep to give them sweets and presents.

Tradition in Germany

In Germany, St Nicholas Day is celebrated on the night of 5-6 December, as in other countries. German children leave their slippers on the eve of 6 December so that St Nicholas can put sweets on them. St Nicholas' Day marks the beginning of the festive season and is considered as important as Christmas.

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