Today is the feast day for Saint Nicholas patron saint of children, fishermen, and merchants (among others). On this special feast day I would like to present to you one of my favorite books for this Christmastime.
The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas by William J. Bennett is an excellent collection of information, legend and fact, of Nicholas and how he became a central figure in many Christmas traditions. Bennett provides the most commonly accepted story of the miracles of St. Nicholas, including the legend of the first stockings, as well as a brief history of how this saint was transformed into the chubby man in red. Bennett's book provides a great way to explore the historical Saint Nicholas as well as to help children come to an understanding of the Santa Claus tradition.
Personally, I think this can also be a great teaching tool to help children see the connections between the secular Santa traditions and Christian values. I don't know that the author had any intention of making such a connection, but I found great value there. I'd recommend this as a book to read with older children as they begin to think critically about the Santa tradition.
One of our Christmas traditions that was inspired by the story of Saint Nicholas's generosity is for Santa to give those chocolate coins in each of our stockings. It reminds us of Nicholas's charity and that we should follow in his example and help those in need, without seeking acknowledgement.
~~I purchased this book on my own and have not been compensated for this review.~~
Does your family include Saint Nicholas in your holiday celebrations?