Ought we to move St. Nicholas's Feast Day to December 24th?

I understand that St. Nicolas's feast day (December 6th) was made non-mandatory for Catholics in 1968.

It seems to me that here in America, in an odd way, we celebrate St. Nicolas's feast day on December 24th. Ought we not just accept this and make it official? Would the best way to make this happen be to petition my local bishop?

It seems to me that it would go a long way towards turning Santa Claus back into St. Nick.

In Charity,
Alcuin

[quote="alcuin, post:1, topic:181595"]
I understand that St. Nicolas's feast day (December 6th) was made non-mandatory for Catholics in 1968.

It seems to me that here in America, in an odd way, we celebrate St. Nicolas's feast day on December 24th. Ought we not just accept this and make it official? Would the best way to make this happen be to petition my local bishop?

It seems to me that it would go a long way towards turning Santa Claus back into St. Nick.

In Charity,
Alcuin

[/quote]

Just so I understand... You are suggesting that the United States observe St. Nicholas day on a different day than the rest of the world?

[quote="SMHW, post:2, topic:181595"]
Just so I understand... You are suggesting that the United States observe St. Nicholas day on a different day than the rest of the world?

[/quote]

If it's a non-mandatory feast day, how much is it being celebrated anyway?

I have no clear opinion as far as should the change be made only locally, throughout america, or throughout the whole world. I do not think he would be the first saint to be celebrated on different days in different areas.

[quote="alcuin, post:1, topic:181595"]
I understand that St. Nicolas's feast day (December 6th) was made non-mandatory for Catholics in 1968.

It seems to me that here in America, in an odd way, we celebrate St. Nicolas's feast day on December 24th. Ought we not just accept this and make it official? Would the best way to make this happen be to petition my local bishop?

It seems to me that it would go a long way towards turning Santa Claus back into St. Nick.

In Charity,
Alcuin

[/quote]

Just for the record, can I brag about my little girl?

We were looking at neighborhood Christmas decorations the other day, and there was a jolly old Santa Claus statue. She said, "look, there's St. Nick!"

(I just thought it was neat that she chose those words. :heaven:

I couldn't see it having much of an impact, to be honest - I wouldn't be in favour of seeing the feast day moved. What do you suppose the result would be? My guess is that, at most, some people would say that all the commercialism is down to good ol' St. Nick, and carry on as before. Associating a saint, whose life revolved around charitable acts, with over-the-top commercialism, supposedly in his name, would not in any way to justice to the life of this great saint. I think that, if anything, we should seek to distance the REAL Saint Nicholas from the greed and frenzy of the Christmas season.

By the way, as you may know from some of my other posts, I do not live in the United States of America - I live in Ireland. St Nicholas is one of the patrons of my diocese and our cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady and St Nicholas. We celebrate his feast day on December 6th, normally with Sung Masses and Vespers...

I think turning Santa back into St. Nick is a great idea. Maybe it would curb some of the commercialism.

Lots of saints feast days have been changed.

[quote="NPC, post:5, topic:181595"]
What do you suppose the result would be? My guess is that, at most, some people would say that all the commercialism is down to good ol' St. Nick, and carry on as before. Associating a saint, whose life revolved around charitable acts, with over-the-top commercialism, supposedly in his name, would not in any way to justice to the life of this great saint.

[/quote]

I think that if it were intended as an anti-commercialism act, it wouldn't do anything useful.

One major part of Catholicism is picking up pieces of non-Christian cultures that are undeniably good and pointing them toward their ultimate goodness in God. I think that Santa Claus is good. I think that a time of year to give presents to your friends and loved ones is good. However, if Santa Claus and giving are an end in themselves, then they're less good than they could be.

It would be much better if Santa Claus clearly pointed to St. Nick, and St. Nick clearly pointed to Jesus. By himself, Santa Claus doesn't do a very good job of pointing to Jesus. However, I think that having St. Nicolas's feast day on Dec 24th would help put everything in the correct order.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

[quote="alcuin, post:1, topic:181595"]
I understand that St. Nicolas's feast day (December 6th) was made non-mandatory for Catholics in 1968.

It seems to me that here in America, in an odd way, we celebrate St. Nicolas's feast day on December 24th. Ought we not just accept this and make it official? Would the best way to make this happen be to petition my local bishop?

It seems to me that it would go a long way towards turning Santa Claus back into St. Nick.

In Charity,
Alcuin

[/quote]

How about getting your parish to bring St. Nicholas back into his Dec. 6 Feast Day? :) I've made a point of bringing materials about St. Nicholas in to our RCIA sessions in my Latin parish and getting something into the parish bulletin. We celebrate St. Nicholas/Nicolai in a big way in the Byzantine and Eastern European, Ukrainan and Russian churches. You could look for a Byzantine Catholic church that would be celebrating with the festal vigil on the evening of the 5th and the feast day on the 6th, and/or an Orthodox parish for the vigil (a prayer liturgy with no Holy Eucharist) and/or the feast day liturgy. Some parishes are on the Julian calendar and so celebrate his feast day on what we call Dec. 19 (and thus Christmas on our January 13th)

Some of us here in the US do celebrate it on the 6th. I find that it is a great chance to enjoy some European customs (shoes outside to be filled, etc) and separate St. Nick and Santa from the celebration of Jesus' nativity. We've never actually done Santa in my little family because my parents were always very manipulative about it, so this is our chance to give St. Nick the attention he deserves.

In our family, we taught our kids that when St. Nicholas gave, he did it in secret, without looking for thanks. Therefore, when someone wants to imitate Christ as St. Nicholas did, by giving without looking for thanks, they will write "From Santa Claus" on the tag. Even when they were little, we would take them to pick out gifts for kids whose families couldn't give them much, so we could be "Santa Claus".

Even now that they are older, it is our family rule that no one may ask who gave any gift that has "Santa Claus" on the tag, because that person wants reward only from God.

If we want to imitate St. Nick, we wouldn't worry about him getting credit for secret giving, but would restrict our secret giving to stuff that people actually need....and in the case of young children (and to a lesser extent, us older ones), well, a little surprise and delight are needs, too.

I think the OP may not understand how the calendar works. The local bishop would not be in charge of this, as this is a very old feast day that has been in place on Dec 6th for many years. St. Nicholas has much tradition behind his feast day, especially in European Countries (and especially in the Northern ones).

It would be a tragedy, a further loss of tradition and connection with the past and with all Catholic churches around the world, to change this common and ancient celebration! Just because of some local, fleeting cultural issues?

We can adjust the calendar sometimes for some reasons. But in general, when the world and the Church's calendar don't conform, let's change the world, not the calendar!

What's next ... should we get rid of Advent since people celebrate Christmas as soon as November ends?

Actually, if memory serves, December 24th, under the Roman Martyrology, is reserved for Adam and Eve.

Moving St. Nicholas to December 24th is actually, as I see it, a bad idea. We need to focus on the birth of Christ and the incredible Mystery of the Incarnation.

Yes, December 24th is the Commemoration of the holy ancestors of Christ.

At one point, there used to be feasts celebrated from Dec 17-24. However,one of the ideas of the new calendar was to give to these days a sense of intense preparation for Christmas. A feast would inject a different note into the sense of waiting. The idea behind the period of waiting, is so that the full joy can be revealed at Christmas. A feast would, in a certain sense, "steal some of the thunder".

The venerable texts for these days, (such as the 'O' antiphons) are all geared towards welcoming the Saviour and emblematic of our desire for Christmas. This is especially true for the 24th when the texts have a very great sense of anticipation for the coming feast of Christmas. ** For this reason, among others, the 24th has never been the feast of any saint.

There has therefore been a tendency not to place feasts in these days. Any feasts that are placed on these days must be optional memorials and cannot use special texts other than the Opening Prayer at Mass.

For example, in 1969, in the universal calendar, St. Thomas was moved from the December 21st to July. In the USA, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was similarly moved from December 22nd. There are a couple of saints still on the calendar in these days - Ss. Peter and John on the 21st and 23rd - but, as I said, these are optional, and not done using the full range of special texts. In my (admittedly meagre) experience, these are usually either very low-key celebrations or not observed at all. In the calendars of the religious orders like the Jesuits, they are often moved to other days in the year, so that they can be celebrated more joyfully.

** For example, in the LOTH, it has special antiphons such as "...your redemption is at hand", "...tomorrow your salvation will be with you", "tomorrow is the day when the sins of the world will be wiped away".

In fact, you could even say that the text is so focused on the approaching feast that in our eagerness, instead of addressing God the Father, we address Christ directly in the Opening Prayer at Mass (and Prayer for the LOTH) - "Come Lord Jesus, do not delay; give new courage to your people who trust in your love.....". This is one of only two times in all the possible Opening Prayers of the Mass that Christ is addressed directly instead of the Father.

[quote="alcuin, post:1, topic:181595"]
I understand that St. Nicolas's feast day (December 6th) was made non-mandatory for Catholics in 1968.

It seems to me that here in America, in an odd way, we celebrate St. Nicolas's feast day on December 24th. Ought we not just accept this and make it official? Would the best way to make this happen be to petition my local bishop?

It seems to me that it would go a long way towards turning Santa Claus back into St. Nick.

In Charity,
Alcuin

[/quote]

Actually, it was Martin Luther who encouraged his followers to give presents to children on Christmas Eve (even Christmas Day) rather than on St. Nicholas's Day. By the way, Santa Claus MEANS Saint (Santa) Nikolas (CLAUS) in Greek. In Bohemia and Germany, the feastday became very special for children. The Dutch called him Sinterklaas; the old Germans referred to him as Mynheer Niklaas.

The American version of this saint is very unique, and only occurred here, beginning in the early 19th century. In 1808, American author Washington Irving created a new version of old St. Nick. This one rode over the treetops in a horse drawn wagon "dropping gifts down the chimneys of his favorites." Irving described Santa as a jolly Dutchman who smoked a long stemmed clay pipe and wore baggy breeches and a broad brimmed hat. Also, the familiar phrase, "...laying his finger beside his nose...," first appeared in Irving's story.

That phrase was used again in 1822 in the now-classic poem by Dr. Clement Clarke Moore, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," more commonly know as "The Night Before Christmas." His verse gave an Arctic flavor to Santa's image when he substituted eight tiny reindeer and a sleigh for Irving's horse and wagon. It is Moore's description of Santa that we most often think of today: "He had a broad face, and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly."

in 1863, Thomas Nast, a German immigrant, gave us a visual image of the cheerful giver that was to later become widely accepted.

When Nast was asked to illustrate Moore's charming verse for a book of children's poems, he gave us a softer, kinder Santa who was still old but appeared less stern than the ecclesiastical St. Nicholas. He dressed his elfin figure in red and endowed him with human characteristics. Most important of all, Nast gave Santa a home at the North Pole. For twenty-three years, his annual drawings in Harpers Weekly magazine allowed Americans to peek into the magical world of Santa Claus and set the stage for the shaping of today's merry gentleman.

Artist Haddon Sundblom added the final touches to Santa's modern image. Beginning in 1931, his billboard and other advertisements for Coca Cola-Cola featured a portly, grandfatherly Santa with human proportions and a ruddy complexion. Sunblom's exuberant, twinkle-eyed Santa firmly fixed the gift-giver's image in the public mind.

It was a long development but one that is uniquely American. For Christians, I think they could begin celebrating the feast of Saint Nicholas again on his feastday of Dec. 5/6. Chrsitmas should be all about Jesus, not Santa Claus.

I am very uncomfortable, as a Catholic, with the entire Santa Claus phenomenon. Seeing a holy Saint of God's Church turned into a cartoon character with workshops filled with elves, magic reindeer and a chubby little wife is rather unfortunate. I would prefer to see less of this Santa stuff instead of trying to strengthen the associations even further. Our local Churches even brought people dressed as Santa into the Sanctuary during Masses in Advent. Very poor thinking there.

And as for moving feasts, I think there is far too much of this already. Instead of moving St. Nicholas' feast day I would prefer to move back Epiphany, put Ascension Thursday back on Thursday, and so on. Personally, I think the best move is to actually celebrate Dec. 6 properly and put some proper focus back on St. Nicholas the real man and off of chubby elf slave drivers. Just my thoughts anyway. :)

[quote="benedictgal, post:12, topic:181595"]
Actually, if memory serves, December 24th, under the Roman Martyrology, is reserved for Adam and Eve.

Moving St. Nicholas to December 24th is actually, as I see it, a bad idea. We need to focus on the birth of Christ and the incredible Mystery of the Incarnation.

[/quote]

*I couldn't agree with you more. In all humility; why would one feel that Saint Nicholas would want recognition on the Blessed Eve of the Holy Incarnation? Haven't people secularized Christmas enough?
I mean how many Christian observances throughout the year are bludgeoned to death with secular observances? *

Christmas
Easter
Saint Valentines
Hallowed-Eve

Desiring to move the Feast of Saint Nicholas to December 24th would sadden and do Saint Nicholas an injustice.

For anybody looking for a way to celebrate Saint Nick spiritually, we always put our shoes out to be filled with candy the night before, but a couple years ago we took it a step further. I identified a woman who had frequent professional contact with small children in impoverished families. With their parents' permission, she passed on shoe sizes and addresses, and we split a list of kids up with some folks from church. On December 5, church families secretly visited these houses and left behind new pairs of warm boots filled with candy and favors.

So much is done at christmas for needy families, but around here winter hits a good bit earlier and kids run around in cold tennies until Angel Tree or somebody else comes up with boots for them.

It was really fun for the children of the church families to buy for kids their own ages/genders and to do it "double-blind" anonymous.

[quote="centurionguard, post:16, topic:181595"]
I couldn't agree with you more. In all humility; why would one feel that Saint Nicholas would want recognition on the Blessed Eve of the Holy Incarnation? Haven't people secularized Christmas enough?
I mean how many Christian observances throughout the year are bludgeoned to death with secular observances?

Desiring to move the Feast of Saint Nicholas to December 24th would sadden and do Saint Nicholas an injustice.

[/quote]

I confess that I hadn't considered justice towards the saint. Rather I was thinking of using our great saint to point people towards God.

I'll try to make my arguments a little more down to earth.

Imagine an child who is enormously excited by the gifts they got from Santa Claus. They hear strange stories about a jolly old elf with a magic sleigh, and don't know what to believe. The Church says clearly, "Santa Claus is based on St. Nicholas. He was a great man who loved God and so gave people presents. He didn't even want them to know that the presents came from him. So people sign 'Santa Claus' when they want to be anonymous like St. Nick."

I think that the saint's feast day is a great way to remind people who he was and what he did. Certainly December 6th is a good day for his feast. But on December 24th Americans are already honoring him in a strange, distorted way; children eagerly await his parodied arrival, and adults sign a version of his name to gifts. If his feast day is December 24th, then the Church is honors him explicitly and clearly while the culture is muddled and confused.

For the seculars, Santa Claus on the 24th points to presents on the 25th. For Christians, St. Nicholas on the 24th points to God on the 25th. I propose that moving the feast day and making it mandatory would strengthen this narrative.

[quote="alcuin, post:1, topic:181595"]
I understand that St. Nicolas's feast day (December 6th) was made non-mandatory for Catholics in 1968.

It seems to me that here in America, in an odd way, we celebrate St. Nicolas's feast day on December 24th. Ought we not just accept this and make it official? Would the best way to make this happen be to petition my local bishop?

It seems to me that it would go a long way towards turning Santa Claus back into St. Nick.

In Charity,
Alcuin

[/quote]

I understand where you are going here but I don't think it would really work. The folks who get so caught up in Santa and make Christmas an orgy of gifts instead of the Feast of the Nativity aren't really going to care about the church moving a Saint's day. Those folks are cultural Christians if they are Christians at all and would probably take it as an opportunity to laugh at the church. For those that are looking for ways to bring their faith more into the front of their lives, they need to focus more on Christ and learn to separate Santa/St Nicholas from the Nativity. Having the 2 feasts on the same day would not help them.

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