St. Nicholas is Santa’s real name. St. Nicholas, who was a 4th Century bishop in Turkey, is patron saint of children, sailors, bakers, pawn-brokers and Russia, among other things. We have been celebrating St. Nicholas Day, which falls on 6th December, for many years, and its become a tradition among our family and friends to meet every year on St. Nicholas Day to mark the beginning of the Christmas Season.

 We became aware of St. Nicholas Day years ago when we were living in Naxos, Greece, with our young children. One day, my husband went to the bank and took an extraordinarily long time. It turned out that he had been delayed because it was the bank manager’s Name Day (St. Nicholas Day) and everyone at the bank, staff and the people waiting in the queue, were served brandy and cake to celebrate.

 This seemed so joyous and generous to us that we determined that day to apply this same generosity of spirit to our own lives, and especially to our celebration of Christmas. In Australia, we had become put off and a bit jaded by the tackiness, greed and emptiness that Christmas seemed to be becoming. In Naxos, where people lived simply as they had done for thousands of years and many in Naxos Town still lived in one-room houses and had little money for luxuries, they never-the-less found the time, spirit and wisdom to constantly celebrate life. They did this by meeting in the tavernas every evening, promenading along the Paralia on Sunday mornings after church in their Sunday Best, meeting, talking and even cooking in the ancient alleys and serving brandy at the bank.

 For my family, St. Nicholas Day has come to represent the celebration of the real spirit of Christmas. As Patron Saint of children, St. Nicholas is the ideal symbol of Christmas, which is a celebration of human hope and renewal through it’s focus on the birth of a symbolic child, and it’s roots in the more ancient winter festival to hasten the return of the sun and the summer harvest.

 This year, like every year, we gathered to celebrate St. Nicholas Day and the spirit of family, children, friendship and generosity that he represents. The Christmas Season is in full swing, and we wish you and your colleagues, family and friends great joy.

Lynette Jensen


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