December 6, 2012

Holiday Cheer - Feast of St. Nicholas*

*Also known as Little Christmas
By Anna Kathryn Lanier



Note: this is a repeat (word for word, except for the recipe...it's new) of my Dec. 6, 2011 post.

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.

History.com explains that Santa Claus came to America via the Dutch. In 1773 and 1774, New York newspapers reported gatherings of Dutch families in honor of the anniversary of Bishop Nicholas’s death, December 6th. In the early 19th Century, John Pintard, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the annual meeting of the New York Historical Society. The carvings included background images of stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. In 1809, the stories of Sinter Klass was further popularized by Washington Irving when he referred to St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York.
I know that we complain about stores taking the meaning out of Christmas with all their advertisements. But this is nothing new. In 1820, stores were advertising Christmas shopping and by the 1840’s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertising. The first Santa in a store was here by 1841. In the early 1890’s the Salvation Army recruited unemployed men to dress up as Santa and solicit money for the free meals they gave away on Christmas. Though today it is rare to see someone dressed as Santa, the bell ringers are still holiday icons.
The publication of “An Account of a Visit From St. Nick” by Clement Clarke Moore in 1822 also helped to further the image and popularity of Santa Claus. Moore also gave the familiar description of Santa (Jolly old elf) and named the reindeer, though two of them have since been renamed. The poem has also been attributed to Henry Livingston, Jr.

For a great timeline of St. Nicolas in America, check out The History of Christmas’s America’s page.
 


Bite-sized bits of North Pole magic are just what your holiday party needs! This delectable balance of salty and sweet is a wonderful way to give everyone an irresistible taste of the Christmas spirit.

Ingredients

  • Mini Twist Pretzels
  • White Chocolate Almond Bark
  • Red Sugar
  • Mini Marshmallows

Instructions

  1. Melt the white chocolate almond bark according to the directions on the package.
  2. Dip each mini twist pretzel halfway into the melted white chocolate almond bark.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  1. Now, for some promotional stuff. In my novella, A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE, Santa Claus pays a visit to Tessa and Jacob in this excerpt:

    “Did you open your stocking?”

    “My stocking?” She closed the dishwasher and turned it on.

    “Yeah, that red thing hanging on the mantle. Did you open yours?”

    She cocked her head and smiled. What had he done? “No.”

    He hustled her out of the kitchen to the living room. Two red velvet stockings with white trim hung from the mantle, both obviously stuffed with gifts. He removed one and handed it to her, then retrieved his own.

    She squeezed the stocking, the soft velvet rubbing her hands as a hard object pressed back. It had been years since she’d had a stocking, not since leaving the home. Childish excitement bubbled inside her, along with gratitude at Jacob’s thoughtfulness.

    He waved a hand to the couch and she sat on one side while he sat on the other. She watched as he removed a candy bar, then a small, thin wrapped gift. He shook it.

    “No rattle. I wonder what it can be.” He ripped off the paper to reveal a little black date book. “Santa gets me one of these every year. Hey, you’re not opening your stocking.”

    The heat of a blush crept up her face. “I’ve had a stocking before. The group home always gave us one.” She delved into the red velvet, anxious to see what Santa had left her.

    He opened his candy bar and took a large bite. “I never said you hadn’t,” he spoke around the chocolate.
    Bright green paper fell away from a bottle of perfume, the sort you got from the drug store. She loved it.

    The next few minutes revealed a pair of gloves, aftershave and a movie DVD for Jacob. She received bath salts, a word search book and her own candy bar. Both stockings had an orange and nuts in the bottom.
    Sighing happily, Tessa fell back against the couch. “That was a pleasant surprise.”

    “Well, I’d love to take the credit, but Christina did it. She gave me the gifts last night.”

    Ah, so that was the bag he’d carried home.

    “But you played Santa.”

    “I suppose I did.” His hazel gaze bore into her. “And you played Mrs. Claus.”

    Her forehead wrinkled in confusion. “How do you figure?”

    “Last night you helped me make cookies. And you’ve fixed that strudel for Pee Wee and Taylor. Isn’t that what Mrs. Claus does, bake cookies?”

    Tessa grinned. “I suppose it is.”

    She couldn’t remember a time when she’d felt so…joyful, if she’d ever felt joyful. She laughed.




Blurb – A Gift Beyond All Measure

Arriving home for Christmas, the last thing Jacob Scott expects in his house is a sexy, shotgun-toting stranger. Worse, his attraction to her bothers him even more than the gun. Still reeling from the deception of his long-time girlfriend, he’s not looking for romance.

Tessa Jones has learned one hard lesson—when everyone in your life has failed you the only one you can trust is yourself. Facing the whispers of the townsfolk and an arson charge, Tessa unexpectedly finds herself trusting Jacob with more than her legal troubles.

Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can these two lost souls overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure?
"This is a must read for anyone who needs a good dose of Christmas romance. You won’t be disappointed." A Five Star Review by Ginger Simpson

Available from
The Wild Rose Press, Kindle and Nook.

Anna Kathryn Lanier

11 comments:

Meb Bryant said...

Hope you don't mind, but I'm condensing your blog and the recipe into one step: dipping the hunk in the red sugar. Yummy, yummy for his tummy. (blue eyes, too)

Enjoyed the info about St. Nick and the excerpt from your novella. Thanks for the seasonal read.

jbrayweber said...

Wonderful blog, Anna! I've always found how Santa and other holidays coming to existence fascinating. Thanks for reminding me of Santa's story.
Great recipe and great excerpt!

Jenn!

Sarah Hoss said...

I love the header on your blog, very pretty!

The excerpt for your book was great and this is a book now on my TBR pile. Thanks for sharing.

I also enjoyed the info on St. Nick. I don't own an e-reader of any sort, so let's hope St. Nick will bring me one.

JOAN REEVES aka SlingWords said...

Hey, Anna! What cute sweet confections -- the guy's not bad either.

Happy Holidays!

Melissa said...

Loved the post and excerpt from your novel! The candy looks yummy. The eye candy is not bad either!! LOL

Barbara Edwards said...

I have to try this recipe. I love pretzels and marshmallows, how can I lose?
barbara.edwards2@yahoo.com

Ally Broadfield said...

What a great post! Loved the excerpt and the Santa hats, too. I lazy so I might skip the marshmellow step.

Judy said...

I love this! My favorite part is the Santa hat connected to the washboard abs. ;)

Caroline Clemmons said...

Anna Kathryn, this recipe looks cute as something to give to neighbors with children. I think I'll make some. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful recipes...and your wonderful books.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hello, everyone! Thanks for stopping by. I'm going to make the Santa Hats soon. I made fudge today and screwed it up! Can you believe that? I don't know what I was thinking, but I put double the amount of butter in it! It seems to be setting up, but not sure of the taste. Geez! I hope the hats come out better!

Oh, sorry gals, the santa is mine, all mine! LOL

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

The Santa's Hat recipe looks so cute.
Love the Santa Pic, too. Lovely to gaze upon. lol

Enjoyed the info about St. Nick!

kmnbooks at yahoo dot com