I first learned of Little Christmas in 1978, when I was an exchange student in Finland. My host family celebrated the day with a party and the exchange of small gifts. December 6th is the Feast Day of the Roman Catholic Saint Nicholas, a fourth century bishop of the city of Myra in what is now Turkey.
According to the website Women For Faith and Family “Saint Nicholas was renowned for his great kindness and his generous aid to those in distress. Among the kind and miraculous acts attributed to him are saving three young girls from prostitution by secretly providing them with dowries, raising three murdered boys from the dead, and saving sailors caught in stormy seas. For these reasons, he is considered the patron saint of children, unmarried girls, and sailors, among others.”
But it is wrong to assume that he alone is the legend of Santa Claus. He is one of many, including the pre-Christian Scandinavian legend of Odin, who rode throughout the world in winter on his eight-footed horse, Sleipnir, giving out gifts or punishments. Other legends include Knecht Ruprecht from Germany, Sinterklass from The Netherlands and Father Christmas from England.
The custom of hanging stockings also derives from these legends. From Bishop Nicholas comes the story that when he threw the three bags of gold to save the three sisters from slavery, they landed in their stockings, hung out to dry. Later, Dutch children would put out their wooden shoes for Sinterklass to leave them goodies – apples, candies, cookies and sometimes money to represent the dowries of the three young girls. Of course, those who were bad received coal or switches instead.
- Mini Twist Pretzels
- White Chocolate Almond Bark
- Red Sugar
- Mini Marshmallows
- Melt the white chocolate almond bark according to the directions on the package.
- Dip each mini twist pretzel halfway into the melted white chocolate almond bark.
- Dip each almond bark covered pretzel into the red sanding sugar until only a small amount of the almond bark is showing. Place on waxed paper.
- Cut the mini marshmallows in half. Use additional melted almond bark to adhere a mini marshmallow half onto the side of each pretzel. Allow time for the almond bark to set.
Here’s another recipe I came across, St. Nicholas Purse Cookies. I haven’t made them yet, but I will today with my granddaughter. Just a hint, there’s a Hersey Kiss hidden in these things. Yummy! http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/cookies-other/#Purse
THE PRICELESS GIFT
The last thing Christina Scott expects Santa to bring her is a sexy—and very familiar—cowboy. Gavin Holloway’s just as shocked to discover she’s the woman he’s sent to pick up from the airport for a Christmas visit with her brother. They’d spent one hot week together months ago—a week where they both left their identities and individual problems behind. Neither ever expected a reunion.
Little do they know, Santa’s elf has more than coal up his sleeve. Ho ho ho and a badgering we’ll go before reindeer two-step on their rooftop and deliver THE PRICELESS GIFT that will leave their snowy days sizzling.
Anna Kathryn Lanier
Author, A Gift Beyond All Measure