As a child December 6th was one of my favorite days of the year. On St. Nicholas Day eve (December 5th) we would set our homemade slippers outside of our bedroom door with our Christmas wish lists inside. The next morning we would wake up to find that St. Nick had come for our list and left us candy, a new Christmas ornament, and a chocolate advent calendar in our bedroom shoes. To me, it always represented the beginning of the Christmas season.
What I didn’t realize as a child was that most of my American friends did not celebrate St. Nicholas Day. My mom, being Pennsylvania Dutch, brought this tradition and several others to our family. While my mother’s family never spoke Pennsylvania German, they did maintain many of the German traditions. My grandmother was definitely a Pennsylvania Dutch cook and made pickled beet eggs, scrapple, and hog maw. Personally, I rarely tried any of these dishes as a child, and at the mention of them my response was always “yuck”. My mom and my aunts still make some of the traditional meals but I think they’ve all let hog maw be a recipe of yore. Cleaning pig stomach just is not a pleasurable chore.
Now that I am older, I am so grateful for the traditions that have been passed down from my German ancestors and carried on my grandmother and mom. I know when Hubby and I have children we will be celebrating St. Nicholas Day too. If you missed St. Nick’s Day this year, I don’t think he’ll mind if you celebrate it on December 7th or 8th instead.
Happy beginning of the holiday season!
I do love this time of year in the US – everyone is excited for vacation time, being with family, and finding the perfect gifts for the dearest people in their lives. I am already gearing up for holiday shopping and will admit that I even started wrapping some gifts this week.
A few years ago Hubby and I decided to add an extra person to our Christmas shopping by participating in a program called Operation Christmas Child. The program is through Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that aids the world’s poor, sick, and hungry. Each November the organization works with local churches to collect shoe boxes full of toys and delivers them to children around the world.
For us, we love going to the toy store together and picking out what we’re going to put in our box each year. This year we’ve decided to do a 10-14 year-old girl so included crafts, notepads, socks, stickers, jewelry, and toiletries. While it’s not much, we do hope that it brightens some little girls day somewhere in the world.
If you are interested in participating in Operation Christmas Child, it is not too late! The boxes are being collected through November 19th and directions for packing and drop-off can be found here. This is a great project to do with kids or as a group outing with friends or significant other. Who doesn’t like a date at the dollar store? For just a little bit of money and time, you could make a huge impact on a child in Haiti, Mongolia, Madagascar, or beyond.