Rectifying the Separate Visits of St. Nick and Santa for Catholic Kids

Growing up, my family celebrated St. Nick’s feast day on Dec. 6th by leaving out our shoes the night before. In the morning, we’d find a few small treats from the generous bishop, usually some chocolate coins and warm, fuzzy socks. We’d wear our socks to school, and pack our coins in our lunches. We’d swap stories with our classmates about the presents St. Nick brought to our individual houses (it was a Catholic school), and maybe watch a cartoon story about his life when we got home. Though I knew this man was also Santa, I didn’t ever question why he came with presents twice in the same month.

My coworker was not as lucky with her children. Four years ago, her oldest son, who was six or seven at the time (super smart, super logical kid), wanted to know why St. Nick came on Dec 6th, and on Dec 25th. My friend — his mother — is just as sharp, and answered quickly and cleverly.

She reminded her son how generous St. Nick was during his lifetime, and that he loves to share his wealth and joy with everyone. On his feast day, which is his heavenly birthday, he gifts his fellow Catholics with small gifts as he did centuries ago. Then (and this was the part that I thought was very clever), if anyone leaves a letter to Santa in their shoe, he picks it up and takes it home with him. On Christmas, in order to celebrate the birth of St. Nick’s favorite person, St. Nick/Santa returns bringing even more gifts! He does this to remind us of the joy Christ brought into the world, and that celebrating Christ is so much more important than celebrating him.

Suzi’s kids bought it– they didn’t know they could leave their letters to Santa in their shoes! They sat down to write out their Christmas lists right then and there. It is now the family tradition in their house to leave their letters for Santa in their shoes on the night of December 5th.

Great save mom!

Has this ever happened to you? How did you handle it? What are your family traditions for St. Nick’s feast day?

6 thoughts on “Rectifying the Separate Visits of St. Nick and Santa for Catholic Kids

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing this!! I didn’t do Santa as a kid, but my husband did and really wants to share him with our kids. I definitely am going to use this trick, because I want to celebrate St. Nicholas rather than Santa. But now I see we can do both! (I really am this excited, I’m not throwing in unnecessary exclamation points, haha)

  2. Remember that the Church teaches there is no such thing as a little lie. We may have nostolgia for how we were raised, but as followers of Christ we need to listen to Him more than our childhood traditions. Jesus said let your yes mean yes and yohr no mean no; anything else comes from the Evil One. When we raise our children, we need to ask what messages we are inadvertently sending with Santa Claus and does it correspond to the real meaning? God became man- laid in a dirty cold hard manger and died on a cross. He rejected luxury and preached repentance and acts of mercy. We will be judged on what we did to the least ones. For the season, our focus should not get distracted by nostolgia or a secular version of Santa Claus.

    1. See, but that’s just it. My understanding of Santa was never secular. It was always tied to the faith. It was always about him sharing his joy for Christ’s coming with us. It’s a beautiful message. One that the Church has no problem with. If it were harmful for the souls of anyone, the Magisterium would have to condemn it.

      1. The article praises a mom who “cleverly” lied to her child. While the Magisterium is very clear on lying – very beautifully writen under the 8th Commandment, paragraphs 2464-2513 of the Catechism. We can celebrate these feasts days in rocking ways AND do it in Truth.

      2. I’ve heard many a priest explain it as a living fable. We use fables and fictional stories to teach our children important truths all the time. Even Jesus used parables to help us understand things. The Church does not view Santa as a lie… truly. If it was harmful for little souls, the bishops would come outright and condemn it. You’d see it explicitly on examinations of conscience sheets (as things like astrology are). It is more than okay for kids to believe in Santa, as well as to perpetuate the myth.

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