Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A hands-on presentation about the Bishop of Myra for St. Nicholas Day

Every year on December 6, I give a presentation about the Bishop of Myra to my children and to my catechism classes.  This presentation uses a variety of small objects to tell the story of Nicholas' life.  It's always a popular presentation, so I thought I would share some information about it. My presentation has been adapted from the two suggested on the St. Nicholas Center website.  Every year I tailor it a bit, based on the ages/attention span/cognitive development of the children who are hearing the presentation.  You can find the presentation here and here on the St. Nicholas Center website.

The presentations above use cards, but I like use 3-D objects whenever possible.  These  are items I've collected over time or made with a few simple materials, including:

A underlay cut out of gold fabric in the shape of a miter, a bishop's miter made from felt, a sack of cold coins, a crozier made from a gold pipe cleaner, a small sack of seed (purchased from the miniature section of a hobby store), entwined wooden swords, a printed "Nicene Creed," a St. Nicholas prayer card, a miniature Dutch shoe made from porcelain (obtained on our surprise trip to Holland, Michigan a few years ago on St. Nicholas Eve), a small knitted stocking and a wooden tall-sail ship.   There is also a gold St. Nicholas figure that my children stamped out of air dry clay one year (they insist we keep it in the box!)

I store everything in a wooden box painted gold.  Right now it is plain; with time I hope to embellish it with a simple St. Nicholas prayer card or other emblem. 

A brief overview of my presentation:
I start the presentation by gently laying out a miter underlay made of gold fabric (you can see it on the photo above). Then I talk about Nicholas' life as a young boy and how he became a rich orphan after his parents died.  I describe how he decided to give his money to the poor, including money for a dowry (I put down the sack of coins). I emphasize how he tried to give away his money in secret.

I discuss how he later became a bishop (and set down the miter and crozier).

Then I discuss some of the legends that surround him, like the story about how Nicholas was able to convince a ship's captain to sell grain to him so the people wouldn't starve in a famine (putting down the sack of grain).  I lay down the swords and describe how Nicholas saved three men from execution and how he helped write the Nicene Creed that we say in church today.    I talk about how he is the patron saint of many different people, including children and sailors (then lay down the wooden ship).

We discuss how St. Nicholas is loved around the world.  I tell them that in some other countries, children receive small gifts on St. Nicholas' feast day of December 6  instead of Christmas.  We discuss how the children in the Netherlands leave out their shoes for St. Nicholas.  We talk about how this has evolved into our custom of hanging stockings for Santa Claus.

With time, I hope to develop the presentation even more, covering some of the other European traditions about St. Nicholas.  I would love to show them different images of St. Nicholas as he appears in different countries.

This is such rich, full work!  It's wonderful to see the children's eyes light up when they discover the connection between the Bishop of Myra and our present-day Santa Claus!


  1. What a wonderful idea! I'd love for you to share this (or any of your posts really!) on our Waldorf Wednesday link up:

  2. I really like this. Thanks for sharing!