St. Nicholas - Mikulash
Hungary has Christmas traditions that are unique for us Americans. One of our favorite new traditions is December 6, Nicholas' day. Here, everyone's name is somewhere on the yearly calendar to celebrate a "name day." This is a special day in addition to your birthday. Nicholas's name is on December 6, therefore he is celebrated and remembered on this day, just as in many other countries he is also honored on this day. Here his name is Mikulash. Some families have grandpa dress up like St. Nick to visit their children, or you can "hire" someone to come to your house. I always see the signs with a phone number to call, but haven't tried the personal Santa visit. He did show up at Elizabeth's kindergarten class, and she insisted that he was the REAL one! (He had a real white beard and red clothes) Olivia wants to see him too, so we will try to track him down at the local mall.
The children put their clean boots outside on the window sill and go to bed in hopes of getting candy in the morning from Mikulash, rather than the "switch." There is actually a golden stick you can buy in the stores for this very occasion. And just to be funny, I bought four golden sticks this year to put in their boots. It is such fun to see the kids' faces when they find their boots in the morning!
As a family, we have enjoyed reading the true story about the real St. Nicholas, a man from Lycia and a bishop of Myra. Voice of the Martyrs has published a wonderful book that chronicles his life - his desire to share his riches with the poor, his desire to serve God, and his desire to preserve and preach the truth about Jesus Christ. He was imprisoned under the Roman ruler Diocletian for refusing to bow to him. He chose to worship God alone and stayed in prison.He endured years of imprisonment and persecution because of his faith, and was released when Diocletian died and Constantine came to power. Constantine was a Christian, and he released all the Christians who had been imprisoned. The story inspires us to pray for those who are being persecuted today around the world, and to live boldly for Christ. It's good to remember Nicholas. The real story certainly points us to Jesus, and that is worth celebrating.
(The Story of St. Nicholas, More Than Reindeer and a Red Suit, by Cheryl Odden, published by Voice of the Martyrs)