From a very young age, I can remember our family celebrating St. Nicholas. At our house, Santa isn't known for bringing presents (we exchange gifts, often handmade, from one another on Christmas morning), but on the eve of the 6th of December, we shine our shoes and set them out with a little hay and a carrot for St. Nicholas' white horse!
In the morning, we rush down to see if he has left us a small surprise--a clementine or little book, something small enough for your shoe. St. Nicholas was a 4th century Greek bishop known for his kindness and generosity and was said to have left coins or other small things for the poor on their windowsills or in their shoes. This story inspired the idea that he would leave children presents in their shoes on his feast day. This has been a tradition throughout Europe since the 12th century. St. Nicholas was the inspiration for Santa Claus.
This year, St. Nicholas was very generous and left a package of biscuits and a handknit scarf in my little shoes!
Of course, I had to take a frolic in the snow!! My scarf was just in time for our fresh snow too! Maybe its bright colors will help me to not get lost, as well as stay warm.
Advent...what a beautiful time of year! A time of waiting, reflecting, preparing and traditions, but most of all a peaceful time to spend with family. Advent takes us into the darkest part of winter and brings us a luminous light from within.
I love lighting candles at dinner, making presents for friends and family, and opening a door on the Advent calendar each day; it makes Christmas more special for me.
Our main Advent tradition is "Mary's Star Path." On top of a bookshelf, we lay out a "snowy" piece of fabric, and on it place a path of 24 gold paper stars, with bigger stars for each Sunday of Advent. Mary, from our Nativity set, travels along this path each day drawing one star closer to the manger.
Each day, accompanied by a special song, Mary moves on to the
next star, and the previous one finds a home in the "sky," a blue piece of fabric with little stars draped across the back of the scene. During the first week the landscape is bare except for rocks, crystals and shells; the second week plants are added; the third, animals; and the fourth, people.
"On the golden star path walking, Mother Mary travels far, Brings to us the light of heaven, Brighter than the brightest star."
Oh, where do you come from, You little flakes of snow? Falling softly, falling softly, To the earth below. On the trees and the bushes, On the mountains so far, Tell me snowflakes, Do you come from Where the angels are?