St Nicholas Day – Christmas Around the World

Tomorrow is St  Nicholas Day. What a perfect opportunity to begin your Christmas Around the World study.

You may be saying to yourself, “But we don’t do Santa Claus in our home.”  Just bear with me.

Christmas activities for kids - how to celebrate St. Nicholas Day  ~  HowToHomeschoolMyChild.com

St. Nicholas is based on the 4th century bishop of Myra, part of modern day Turkey. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him.  That’s where we get the Dutch & German tradition on the night of December 5th.  Children in Germany leave their shoes outside their bedroom door.  In the  morning, they are filled with fruits, nuts, and little toys.

Some families placed these treats in stockings drying along the warm hearthside on his feast day, December 6 (that’s tomorrow).  Thus, the tradition of hanging stockings over your fireplace began.  Good children receive small gifts or delicious, edible treats.  Bad children receive twigs in their shoes 🙂

My dad is 100% German and they celebrated this tradition.  Our kids remember putting their shoes in the hallway on December 5th.  We filled them with very small treats & candies.

As part of your Christmas Around the World study, be sure to look at the history of our Christmas traditions.  Read this story tonight and then let your kids put out their shoes.

Who was St. Nicholas?

Legend has it that a poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment, would have to become prostitutes.

Hearing of the poor man’s plight, Nicholas decided to help him, but being too modest to help the man in public (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man’s house.

When you look at the historical background of St Nicholas, I think it puts some of our Christmas traditions in perspective.  What do you think?

Advent & Christmas Activities for Kids

  1. Research St Nicholas Day to discover more stories of how he helped kids.
  2. Write one paragraph about St Nicholas Day.
  3. Let each child put out shoes next to their bedroom. Fill the shoes with small treats from the dollar store or fruit & candy.
  4. Read St. Nicholas’ story to your kids. Discuss how it relates to modern Santa Claus.
  5. Use Christmas Around the World to discover other German Christmas traditions.  Make some of the crafts & food.  Get 50% off with promo code “dec13”
How to Homeschool My Child

Question: How do you handle Santa Claus?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Before I close, one of the best pieces of advice I received the first year I homeschooled was to take a break during December. A friend of mine who had kids the same ages, but had homeschooled since Kindergarten, told me she “quits” formal homeschooling.

What you might say? Quit homeschooling for a month.

Well, not really!

From this piece of advice, our family began a Christmas tradition of integrating Christmas and Advent into our homeschooling.

There are so many ideas to integrate Christmas into your reading, writing, math, history, science and other homeschooling. Use Christmas as your central focus all month-long. I have many ideas for you in our Christmas Unit Study.

If you would like our complete list of Christmas & Advent activities, enter your name & email below. I’d be happy to send our Christmas Unit Study to you at no cost for the next few days. This offer expires in December 31. After that, it will be $9.97.


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