During Advent, as we prepare for Christmas ourselves, it also provides the opportunity to share our faith with others. One feast day that occurs during Advent, although not strictly a part of Advent I think most people can make a connection with preparing for Christmas, is St. Nick’s Day (Dec. 6th). Different cultures have different practices for St. Nick’s Day and I will talk about them another time, but I got into my own practice beginning with grade school.
Since my birthday was never during the school year I never got to bring in a treat to my class on my birthday like most of the other kids. But starting as early as I can remember, my mother had me bring in cookies on my feast day, St. Nick’s Day, for my class. I don’t know if this was already in 1st and 2nd grade, when I was in a public school, or only starting in 3rd grade when I was first in Catholic schools, but everyone in my classes knew it was St. Nick’s Day.
When I was in college my junior year I was no longer living in dorms and normally had lunch at the student union building with some friends, and since I now had my own kitchen in my apartment I decided I would make cookies for St. Nick’s Day and share them with my friends. Many of them had some traditions in their family, either from religious or ethnic backgrounds, but some had never heard of it. It was an opportunity to share traditions and also the history of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra.
Doing this in college was one thing, but then when I graduated and started working with McDonnell Douglas I decided to continue doing this. Most places people work there is at least a break or coffee area where people will bring in food at times, so I brought in some St. Nick’s Day cookies. This was a bit larger and more diverse backgrounds then my friends from college, and more non-Christians, providing many more opportunities to share the history of St. Nicholas. And as long as they got a cookie, no one seemed to ever take offense. And one fellow engineer I worked with a few years married a Catholic woman and they named their first child Nicholas. Previously he had no clue about St. Nick’s Day but he checked with me before it came around that first year because he knew he wanted to celebrate it for his son in some way, and he knew he would score a few points with his wife that he knew about St. Nicholas.
When I entered the seminary I decided I would continue this tradition and the cooks who ran the kitchen were more than happy to let me use the ovens. Since I’ve been ordained if you come to the rectory on St. Nick’s Day, or my office at the Rigali Center since I’ve began also working there, you can have a cookie on St. Nick’s Day. Not exactly the greatest, most convincing form of evangelization, but one of the many simple opportunities we have of living and sharing our faith with those around us, and who will turn down a cookie? Thanks Mom.