Saint Nicholas is coming to town.

Hobby-horse warning: I find it irritating that people confuse Saint Nicholas with Father Christmas. The first one, aka Santa Claus, was a bishop who lived in the 4th century AD. The other one is a descendent of the “Green Man” and Sir Christèmas with more in common with Discworld’s “Hogfather” than with Saint Nick. Put crudely the one is about being generous, giving gifts and sharing hospitality; the other is about having a good time, getting drunk and eating too much. Whip together with a good dose of myth and commercialism and I’m ready to say “Humbug” under my breath while secretly hoping that this year someone has got me something I really want.

Rant over.

Note to self: saints go to parties too, you know.

Saint Nicholas is wearing a bishop's mitre and carrying a bishop's crook. He is also carrying a sack of gift-wrapped presents.

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children and there are legendary stories about his kindness and practical help towards them. So we are invited to consider what it means to be child-like in response to Christianity in general and to environmental issues in particular. I don’t know about you, but if I were ever young and innocent, as evidenced by my beautiful treble voice 50 years ago, I am that no longer. It is hard to be child-like when you see your grandfather’s face in the mirror each morning.

I suppose part of the challenge is to find ways to be truly generous to the upcoming generations. Or, to put it another way, genereosity of spirit is not just for Christmas, it is also for the sake of our planet’s future.

Meanwhile, I note that St Nicholas is also patron saint of sailors, pawn-brokers, prostitutes, bankers, travellers and Russia (yes, I know). I wonder what their take on the enviroment might be and whether we would be willing to hear their voices too?

This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading “Sleepers Wake: Getting Serious About Climate Change” by Nicholas Holtam. For conversations and blog posts from various group members, follow the hashtag on Twitter or join the Facebook group.


6 thoughts on “Saint Nicholas is coming to town.

  1. I never knew the difference. I enjoy seeing the look on children’s faces when these fictional characters appear, some smiling, some scared to death. As an adult, I’m more concerned with children understanding the spirit of these characters (love, giving, etc.) than the charcters themselves. Happy holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, Saint Nicholas is big in the Netherlands, the 5th of Dec. For children and adults alike.
    Our experience of the first Christmas in Australia was very challenging. The heat, people in shorts and thongs, the smell of beer in the church. Bogong moths swarming escaping to cooler mountains. It was the spirit of Christmas.


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