It was a blustery day in early December when St. Nicholas, after tying up his reindeer in the parking lot, abruptly appeared in Chapel on our Hough Campus.
What was the occasion of his visit you may ask? Well, to tell us all about himself of course! His big day is just around the corner.
St. Nicholas, known to historians as Bishop Nicholas of Myra (270-343), told us that his parents died when he was a teenager and after their death, he inherited a large sum of money. His uncle, who was a priest, took him in and raised him. Nicholas grew up learning about how God loves all people and how he could show people love through a generous spirit.
One story St. Nicholas told us was about a man who had lost all his money. He had three daughters who were old enough to get married, but in those days young women had to have a dowry to get married. Since the family was very poor and the daughters couldn’t marry, they were likely to be sold as slaves.
The night before the oldest daughter was to be sold, she washed her stockings and put them in front of the fire to dry. While the family was asleep, Nicholas snuck by and threw a sack of gold coins through the window and they happened to land in her stocking.
In the morning the daughter saw a lump in her stocking. Reaching in, she found a small, heavy bag. It had gold inside! Enough to provide food for the family and money for her dowry. Oh, how happy they were! The same thing happened the next two nights. All the daughters could now marry.
Nicholas spent his life taking care of people. Most often he would do this in secret so that he could not be thanked publicly. Nicholas was known for his faithfulness, his humility, and his generosity. He later became a priest and then a bishop.
Before his departure, Bp. Nicholas left a bag full of gold chocolate coins. There was enough for each student to have two - one to keep and one to give away in secret. It feels so good to give without receiving anything in return.
December 6th has been designated as St. Nicholas Day and all around the world various customs are practiced which usually include shoes and stockings being miraculously filled with gifts. It is in this spirit that Santa Claus has become a part of our culture visiting on Christmas Eve, the night Christians celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus.