Who Is Saint Nicolas?
While living in Europe and spending time in France, I made a discovery. There was a flurry of activity associated with the date of 06 December and Saint Nicolas.
But, wait a minute. What was Saint Nick doing here instead of his usual haunt of 25 December for Christmas?
Saint Nicolas And Santa Claus
Naturally, I've known our modern-day American Santa Claus all my life, but I wasn't raised Catholic. I was unaware of Saint Nicolas, the saint, per se. .
Time for sleuthing. Off I launched on the trail. Saint Nicolas was actually a real person born in Greece and a remarkable 4th-century Christian saint who lived a long time ago from 15 March 270 to 06 December 343.
The story of Saint Nicolas has a bit more flavor than our present-day Santa Claus. Finding the connection between Santa and Saint helped to explain how he came to have his nickname of Saint Nick.
The Story Of Saint Nicolas
If you spend any time looking at original fairy tales and at The Brothers Grimm, pre-Disney, you will find harsh renditions of these tales. Violent endings were commonplace and wickedness was, without apologies, very wicked.
Exploring these harsh-reality versions is fascinating and a peek back into time. My first taste of this was reading The Little Matchstick Girl, published in 1845 by Hans Christian Andersen. She died on New Year's Eve, sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against a building, frozen to death. The next morning, people walked by in their warm coats and gloves and scarcely gave notice. Life was as hard as nails in those days.
True to the storytelling of that time, probably the most important miracle of Saint Nicolas recounts a gruesome tale of a butcher who lured three angelic (naturally) children into his home. It was dark and they were lost after a day of gathering sticks in the forest.
The butcher happily welcomed them. He then proceeded to chop them all up, as only a butcher can, and store them in a big bin. Presumably for midnight snacks or to sell the meat to the unsuspecting villagers.
You can see their little shoes lined up after he has killed them in this illustration. Egads!
The Miracles Of Saint Nicolas
Now, Saint Nicolas is one awesome saint. I mean, it's one thing to bring an intact dead body back to life. But to reassemble chopped up bits and bring all three children back to life is a top-of-the-line saint by anyone's standards.
And, that is just what he did.
He visited the village and stopped by the butcher's house. When the butcher offered him other meats, Saint Nicolas said, "No, I want what is in that bin!" He pointed three fingers and out came the revived children.
Penance For The Wicked Butcher
Don't think the butcher got away with it.
When the butcher begged for mercy, Saint Nicolas pardoned him, but on the condition that the now-repentant butcher would travel with him throughout the land as penance.
The butcher is known as Père Fouettard. Fouettard comes from the word for whip in French. Père Fouettard is usually dressed in black or dark clothes and he carries a switch to whip all the bad children.
Saint Nicolas brings treats for the good children.
Celebrating Saint Nicolas Day
Saint Nicolas Day is celebrated mostly in the northern parts of Europe as well as in Russia. Children place their sabots, wooden shoes, by the door or near the fireplace for Saint Nicolas to fill them with little treats.
However, instead of a sleigh pulled by reindeer, Saint Nicolas travels with a humble donkey. Along with their wooden shoes, children usually leave out a carrot or two as a tasty treat for their four-footed friend.
Saint Nicolas is often depicted walking with his donkey and Père Fouettard following behind, carrying his switches.
Just as our American Santa Claus will don an outfit and visit children, so too, will Saint Nicolas and Père Fouettard. French adults recount the visceral fear they felt as little children when Père Fouettard would visit their schools and villages. Well, with good reason... chopped up into bits would terrorize anyone.
In France, there is also Père Noël (Father Christmas) who appears on Christmas Eve, like our Santa Claus. They celebrate the day of Saint Nicolas and Père Noël also visits them with goodies for Christmas Eve, so they luck out twice in December.
Saint Nicolas – Patron Saint
Saint Nicolas is quite the active patron saint. After his amazing feat of bringing three children back to life, he is the patron saint for all lost children.
He is also the patron saint for sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe.
Lighting Our Legends
Students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) can use TRT® hands-on to become more in touch with their own awareness about the story. When studying history, your use of TRT® can put you more in touch with events. If you wish to go deeper, tales such as these are symbolic of energies of good and evil and even our own journey within.
For students of The Second Degree of TRT®, it is possible to direct energy across time and space, to Saint Nicolas himself. Isn't it amazing that someone from almost 700 years ago can still touch us today?
December 6 – Feast Day Of Saint Nicolas
What about you? Will you be leaving out your wooden shoes on the 6th of December for Saint Nicolas?
I know I will. Luckily, I was able to pick up some wooden shoes when I lived in Germany. I just hope he can find me now, in the United States, far from his usual stomping grounds of Northern Europe.
Fortunately, the connections of the heart know no boundaries or distance. We'll be sure to find each other there.
Have a wonderful Saint Nicolas Day.