Advent is the time when Christians prepare to greet Christ—who came as a babe in a manger, who comes into our lives each day, and who will come again at the end of time. Advent is the time when people of faith are most at odds with the culture. The church calls people to focus on getting ready to receive Christ—preparing hearts and lives to make room for Jesus, to live as he would have us live. It is a time of longing, not fulfillment. Quiet reflection, not celebration. The culture, however, is already in a time of festivity, unable or unwilling, to wait and contemplate and prepare for the real festival. It is not easy to observe Advent without being pulled prematurely into Christmas.
How does St. Nicholas fit into all of this? He is an Advent saint because his December 6 feast day always falls in early Advent (Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas between November 27 and December 3). However, Nicholas is a good Advent saint for more important reasons than the date of his special day. Whatever he did, and it is said that he did many kinds of amazing things, may not be as important as the way he did it. Nicholas became so popular because he was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. His life clearly reflected the way each one of us is called to show God's love to others, especially those in need.
Celebrating St. Nicholas on his day in Advent brings a bit of fun and festivity into homes, churches, and schools. His small treats and surprises help keep the spirit of good St. Nicholas, especially when stories of his goodness and kind deeds are told and ways to express his care for those in need are sought. Saint Nicholas helps us remember Christmas is a feast of love, hope, kindness and generosity. Yes, Nicholas is a good Advent saint. Copyright www.stnicholascenter.org
Who is St. Nicholas?
• How do St. Nicholas and Santa Claus differ? Santa Claus is round and plump; St. Nicholas is tall and thin. Santa Claus wears a stocking cap; St. Nicholas wears a bishop's hat. Santa Claus comes December 25th; St. Nicholas comes December 6th. Santa Claus is often seen in stores; St. Nicholas is often seen in churches. Santa Claus flies through the air—from the North Pole;St. Nicholas walked the earth, caring for those in need. Santa Claus, for some, replaces Jesus at Christmas;St. Nicholas, for all, points to Jesus at Christmas. Santa Claus isn't bad; St. Nicholas is just better. —C. Myers & J. Rosenthal • How can you be a St. Nicholas? By doing good deeds in secret. Encourage each child/person to think of one way to be a St. Nicholas for someone this year. Copyright www.stnicholascenter.org