Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Who was Saint Nicholas?  If you read yesterday's post, you know that people all around the world celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6th.  You can read the beautiful story of his life on  St. Nicholas Center.org, which is a wonderful website that has lots of history, recipes, crafts, and other ideas for celebrating St. Nicholas Day.  You might consider starting some fun family traditions to honor this good Bishop of Myra, who gave gifts and did good works in secret.
Illustrator: Elisabeth Jvanovsky
Image courtesy of St. Nicholas Center
One story is that Nicholas tossed bags of gold through an open window of a destitute family.  The bags are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left by the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Kids can put out their own shoes or hang their Christmas stockings, but I found an adorable blog post by one of my favorite author/artists, Carol Baicker-McKee, with her tutorial on how to make paper shoes (or her new boot template) for "St. Nicholas" to fill (traditionally with gold coins, oranges, fresh baked gingerbread cookies, chocolates, or small gifts).

St. Nicholas Day is a perfect reminder that we shouldn't forget the less fortunate during this Holy season of Advent.  Take time with your kids to bring canned goods to a food bank, try to find a day to work at a local soup kitchen, make gingerbread cookies to take to a lonely neighbor or shut-in ...the list is endless.  In keeping with the "shoe" theme, consider a company like Tom's Shoes to buy gifts from this year - with every pair you purchase, Tom's will give a pair to a child in need.

The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi (ages 8 and up)
The Legend of Saint Nicholas

St. Nicholas:  The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer, illustrations by Chris Ellison. (ages 4 and up)
Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend

St. Nicholas:  A Closer Look At Christmas by Jim Rosenthal, Joe L. Wheeler.  This is a gorgeous coffee-table type book full of pictures and information about St. Nicholas.  Great for the whole family and a wonderful resource!
St. Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas

I wanted to share this yummy (and easy) dessert that I've made during the Advent Fast for St. Nicholas Day:
2-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. margarine, softened
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. molasses
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 9x9x2-inch baking pan.  In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, cloves and salt.  Stir in margarine, water and molasses until well blended.  Pour into pan.  Bake 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry.  Cool slightly on wire rack.  Serve warm with Lemon Sauce (see below).  Makes 9-12 servings.

1/2 c. sugar
2 T. corn starch
1-1/3 c. water
3 T. margarine
2 t. lemon zest
2 T. lemon juice
In 2-quart saucepan combine sugar and corn starch.  Gradually stir in water until smooth.  Stirring constantly, bring to boil over medium heat and boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat. Stir in margarine, lemon zest and lemon juice until well blended.  Pour into serving bowl; cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap.  Cool slightly.  Serve warm on Gingerbread.  Makes about 2 cups. (can top with Cool Whip)

1 comment:

  1. What a thorough and interesting discussion of St. Nicholas and how his holiday is celebrated! I love the ideas for giving to honor his spirit. And I thank you for your kind words about my paper shoe craft.

    Happy St. Nicholas Day! I'm off to make some gingerbread with lemon sauce - sounds perfect for this snowy night!