The legends about St Nicholas bring together the Advent and Christmas themes of expectation, excitement, gift-giving and goodness. Retell some of the legends about St Nicholas. Children could act out the story when St Nicholas secretly gives gold coins to three poor women; or play a game trying to throw chocolate coins or sweets into three large Christmas stocking or a large bag.
Bringer of gifts
St Nicholas is the great gift-giver and kind man. Explore the theme of gift-giving with the children. Ask them why gifts are given at Christmas and what do they symbolise? Discuss with them whether they like giving presents and what sort of presents they choose for people. Encourage the children to consider what makes a gift precious. Then explain that St Nicholas gave gifts freely to those in need. He expected nothing in return.
With younger children: pass-the-parcel
To play this game the children’s leader needs to prepare a pass-the-parcel. The parcel should contain a stocking/sock full of sweets, wrapped around with many layers of paper. After the discussion on gift-giving play pass-the-parcel with the younger children. While the parcel is being passed around the leader can sing Christmas songs. Whenever the leader stops singing, the child with the parcel unwraps a layer of paper. The winner is the child who unwraps the final layer and gets the present. Ask the winner
what St Nicholas would have done with the present. Would he have kept it for himself or shared it with the other children? It is hoped that the winner will get the message and share the sweets.
With mixed age groups: make a gift shoe
Encourage the children to discuss the customs they have at home during Advent and Christmas. They will come to realise every home is different. Then explain some of the St Nicholas Day customs in Holland and Germany, including how children leave out their shoes for St Nicholas to fill. The children can make their own paper or cloth shoes to remind them of the custom.
You will need: paper, colouring and decorative materials, a stapler, scissors and small sweets, chocolate buttons or coins.
Get all the children to draw around one of their feet on a piece of paper and cut out the outline. Then ask them to draw around the top part of their foot on a second piece of paper and to cut this out. The top part of the shoe can then be stapled to the sole as shown in the diagram. Older children might prefer to use felt and sew the edges together. The children can decorate their shoes and fill them with small sweets to give to someone at home or in the congregation. They can write a greeting Happy St Nicholas’ Day – on the shoe or hang it up as a Christmas decoration.
This article was taken from Nicola Currie’s book “Festive Allsorts – Ideas for Celebrating the Christian Year”NS/CHP. Nicola Currie is Communications Officer in Worcester Diocese.
distributed by Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS)