Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicholas: 7 December (transferred from Sunday)

St. Nicholas (270-December 6, 346) is one of the most beloved of saints, and many tails surround him.

What is known is that Nicholas was from Lycia (in Turkey today) and made pilgrimage to Palestine and Egypt, supposedly to study with the desert fathers. Returning some years later, he went to Myra (now Demre, Turkey) where he was quickly ordained Bishop. He was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecution, but was released when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. He also attended the council of Nicaea.

Nicholas was known for his generosity. It is said that a poor man had three daughters and that just before each came of age, he would throw a bag of gold through the window, so that she would have a dowry so as not be need to be sold into slavery. The third time the poor man caught him in the act, and Nicholas told him not to thank Nicholas but the thank God.

Many other fantastic tails surround Nicholas, and while they al probably are based on true stories, the form in which they come to us is more like a fairy tale. Nicholas as a result of his kind actions came to be known as a Patron of children and sailors among others.

Many Orthodox countries, as well as the Netherlands and countries in Eastern Europe celebrate St. Nicholas day. Nicholas is always vested as a Bishop and comes on a white horse, rewarding good children with candy (in Holland with chocolate coins) and bad children with lumps of coal. Shoes are left out to receive these gifts. In Dutch, St. Nicholas is Sinter Klas, and in New York with its mix of Dutch and English came to be known as Santa Claus.

Collect: El Shaddai, as you raised up Nicholas of Myra to be generous to the poor, children and sailors, bless us that we may be blessings to all who are in need, and teach us to protect the poor, children, sailors, and others whom this world has forgotten, and let your blessing be upon them as well. This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and governs with you in Shekina glory everlasting. Amen. (red)

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