St. Nicholas Day: a beautiful legend, traditions and customs of your favorite holiday
On December 6, Ukraine will celebrate St. Nicholas Day for the first time according to the new church calendar. Traditionally, children will find gifts under their pillows that morning and the countdown to Christmas will begin.
OBOZ.UA explains in more detail where the holiday came from and its main tradition - giving what you want. And also who was St. Nicholas, whose memory is honored by the church on this day.
Who was St. Nicholas?
The Christian priest, who became famous for his mercy and miracles, was born at the end of the 3rd century AD. He lived in the city of Patara on the Lycia peninsula, which is now the territory of Turkey, and came from a wealthy Christian family.
Nicholas became a believer early in life and decided to devote his life to the church and science. Over time, he became a priest in the city of Myra, and later was even ordained a bishop.
The man spent his large inheritance to help the needy - he bought food and clothes for the poor, brought toys to children. St. Nicholas also helped to release innocent prisoners from prison, saved people from the death penalty, and after his death, his relics were credited with the ability to heal.
Once a priest learned about a poor man who could not marry off his three daughters because he had no dowry for them. The girls faced a sad fate - they had to either find work or become prostitutes. St. Nicholas decided to give them gold. He came to the family's house three nights in a row and threw bullion into the girls' bedroom through the window. The man wanted to remain anonymous, but the town learned about his actions and began to honor him even more.
Traditions of the holiday
According to historians, the custom of giving gifts to children on behalf of the saint appeared in the Middle Ages in Germany. Parents who wanted to make their children believe in God's miracles began to give them sweets, new clothes, toys, and other things. Later, this tradition spread to neighboring countries, including Poland, from where it came to the Ukrainian territories that were under the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
In Ukraine, special cookies were baked for children for the holiday, called Mykolaychyky. In the Slobozhanshchyna region, after the church service on this day, adults would get together to brew beer. In the Kharkiv region, the festivities lasted for three days, and guests were treated to kutia and uzvar during the feasts. In Podillia, on this day, they waited for the "polaznyk"-the first person to visit. It was believed that if it was someone nice, they would bring good luck for the whole year. That's why people started visiting each other in the morning.
It is also customary to make peace and pay off debts on St. Nicholas Day. In the morning, the owner had to go around the yard, feed and bless the cattle so that they would be healthy. This was supposed to bring prosperity to the family.
Later, a tradition emerged for the whole family to help children write letters to St. Nicholas. In the letter, each child has to tell about his or her good deeds and good behavior, apologize for disobedience and misbehavior, and ask for a gift.
Signs for St. Nicholas
It is believed that if it rains on the holiday, winter crops will grow well. And if it's a frosty day, it's a sign of a good harvest.
St. Nicholas Day is also considered to be the beginning of real winter. If it snows before the holiday, it means it will be cold in winter, and warm days before the holiday portend a mild winter.
This is also the day when the Christmas season begins and you can make your first holiday wishes. And also - to decorate the Christmas tree.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA published holiday greetings for St. Nicholas for family and friends.