As we approach the Christmas season, many of us grapple with the question of whether or not to include Santa Claus in our family traditions. Some Christian influencers suggest that embracing Santa means perpetuating a falsehood and is “lying” to our children. However, there’s a beautiful alternative that allows us to honor tradition while staying true to our faith: teaching our children about the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas.
Teaching our children about truth and church history is just one of the ways we are Homeschooling For Heaven™ !
The Real Santa Claus: St. Nicholas, a Model of Virtue
St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop who lived in the 4th century, is the true inspiration behind the modern-day Santa Claus. His life was marked by acts of kindness, compassion, and generosity, especially toward those in need. Rather than discarding the beloved figure of Santa, we have the opportunity to teach our children about the real Santa Claus, a historical figure rooted in Christian virtues.
Saint Nicholas FREE Coloring Page!
Download our St. Nicholas Coloring Page below for FREE! This, along with 5 other December saints coloring pages are available in our shop.
More FREE Resources
You can also grab this free coloring page and story about St. Nicholas from Sophia for Teachers!
Why Not Skip Santa?
Some parents choose to skip Santa altogether, fearing that introducing him might compromise their integrity by perpetuating a mythical narrative. Some Christian parents passionately argue that they don’t want to “lie to their children” by allowing them to believe in Santa and won’t even allow pictures, movies, or decorations in their home that depict Santa Clause.
However, integrating the story of St. Nicholas provides an opportunity to celebrate a REAL PERSON while embracing a beloved tradition that teaches a valuable lessons of selflessness, generosity, and compassion.
Teaching the Truth: St. Nicholas as the Real Santa Claus
Instead of completely excluding Santa, let’s share the true story of St. Nicholas with our children. Discuss his life, emphasizing the Christian values he embodied. This way, we not only maintain the magic of the season but also impart important lessons about the real reason for our joy—Jesus Christ’s birth.
Here are a few of my favorite books that tell the real story of Saint Nicholas.
The Tradition of Dutch Spice Cookies for Saint Nicholas Day
In many cultures, including Dutch traditions, the celebration of St. Nicholas Day is accompanied by the delightful aroma and taste of speculaas, a type of spiced cookie.
These intricately shaped cookies, often imprinted with festive designs, are made with a blend of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Baking and sharing these Dutch spice cookies on St. Nicholas Day can become a cherished family tradition, symbolizing the rich history and international influence of the St. Nicholas celebration.
The process of making these aromatic treats can be a joyful family activity, fostering togetherness and adding a delicious touch to the festivities. We tried several recipes and found our absolute favorite recipe for speculaas that will become your favorite part of celebrating St. Nicholas Day!
Celebrating St. Nicholas’ Feast Day:
One way to bring the spirit of St. Nicholas into your home is by celebrating his feast day on December 6th. This can be a special occasion to emphasize his acts of kindness and generosity. Here are some ideas to make the day memorable:
- Read St. Nicholas Stories: Share age-appropriate stories about St. Nicholas, highlighting his virtues and good deeds.
- Acts of Kindness: Encourage your children to perform acts of kindness on St. Nicholas Day. This could include donating toys, clothes, or food to those in need.
- St. Nicholas Cookies: Bake Dutch Spice Cookies and use a St. Nicholas Cookie Cutter or cut them in the shape of bishops’ hats or mitres.
- Gifts of Virtue: Instead of focusing solely on material gifts, consider giving gifts that emphasize virtues, such as religious books that highlight acts of kindness or charitable deeds.
- Sweet Surprises in Shoes: One delightful tradition associated with St. Nicholas’ feast day is the custom of placing treats in children’s shoes. On the night of December 5th, children leave their shoes out, eagerly anticipating a surprise from St. Nicholas. This symbolic gesture echoes the legendary story of St. Nicholas tossing bags of gold through a window to provide a dowry for three impoverished sisters. Today, we can continue this tradition by placing small gifts like chocolate coins, oranges, or other treats in our children’s shoes. This not only adds an element of excitement to the celebration but also reinforces the spirit of generosity and the joy of giving that St. Nicholas exemplified throughout his life. It’s a simple yet meaningful way to connect our children with the rich history behind the beloved figure of Santa Claus and instill in them the values of compassion and selflessness.
By celebrating St. Nicholas’s feast day, we create a meaningful connection to the historical figure behind Santa Claus. This allows us to embrace the joy of the Christmas season while instilling in our children the importance of living out their faith through love and charity.
Let’s honor tradition with truth and keep our focus on the true reason for all our December celebrations—the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
In His Love,