Children from Western Christian countries, including Poland, are celebrating Saint Nicholas Day today. It is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra with particular emphasis on his reputation as a bringer of gifts. According to Polish tradition, on the 6th of December, children wait for Santa Claus to come and put a present under their pillows provided that they have been good during the year. Children who have behaved badly might expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows.
The Catholic world celebrates the St. Nicholas day today. It is also known as Santa Claus day. In Poland it is traditional to exchange small gifts with relatives on this occasion.
“St. Nicholas? We don’t really know much about his life, although he is so famous. That has been the case since the first centuries of Christianity to this day. Imagine this, there are only 2000 St. Nicholas churches in France, 400 in England and 120 Orthodox churches in Russia. St. Nicholas is known both in the west and in the east.” commented pr. Jan Sikorski, the rector of the St. Joseph parish.
“But first and foremost, the thing he is most famous for is his kindness. This is the most beautiful monument one can build and it was St. Nicholas who did that.” he added.
The modern tradition of this holiday comes in various forms. Children write letters to St. Nick, and even bake cookies for when he comes. Many families hang Christmas songs in their houses, hoping that St. Nicholas fills them with gifts and sweets.
Every year, special charities are active during Christmas time, i.e. “Poland helps” and “Christmas Eve Help For Children”. The director of Karitas Poland, Fr. Marcin Iżycki told us about special support from one facility in Mocarzewo, where the sisters of the resurrection are building a Strong House for intellectually disabled children.
“Today we went there, to Mocarzewo. I gave this group of children some sweets and other essential products.” said director Iżycki.
Today St. Nicholas is presented as an old bishop with a grey beard, red robe and bishop’s insignia. However, his image is now highly commercialised. Nonetheless, the one element both images have are his acts of kindness.