The Feast of St. Nicholas
Growing up, this was one of my favorite days. In Switzerland it was called "Sammi Glaus Tag", and we often celebrated in school by going on a field trip into the woods where someone dressed as Santa would be waiting for us. For a poem or a song, Sammi Glaus would give us a bag of goodies: nuts, dried fruit, tangerines, sweetbread, cookies, chocolates. We were admonished to be good boys and girls because if NOT...(somehow it was always the boys who were most threatened for their exuberance with this prospect) Schumunzle, Sammi Glaus' helper (who not surprising tended to be dressed like a novice in black cassok) would put you in a big burlap bag and take you into the forest for a year of hard labor, doing whhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifat the Swiss Santa does year round: feeding woodland creatures and living in peace and harmony with God and nature. Sammi Glaus lives in the Black Forrest and comes leading a Donkey packed with goodies. Befitting the lifestyle of a hermit forest dweller, he's rather thin, and usually wears a red robe trimmed in white. Long white beard, the works. Here are some drawings by Swiss kids on the subject.
When I was in in Kindergarten, I remember "St. Nicholas" coming to visit. This one was dressed like a Catholic Bishop: All blues and whites and gold, with a Mitre sporting a big cross, and a shepherd's crook.
So, this was probably more accurate, although the vestments might have been a bit anachronistic. Who knows? I have not studied a history of Christian Vestments...yet.
At any rate, our beloved Archbishop Dmitri visited our parish last weekend, and in some ways it really took me back to my childhood. He did not pass out sweets, but I did receive a blessing, and kissing his hand, I just felt like he could be Santa. Geez, I wonder why?
And that, is the point. One saint should remind us of another Saint. Our hierarchs should all have that aroma of godliness about them and recall Christ to us in special ways, just as we are all to remind each other of Christ as we live our lives. Vladyka giving little Becca and little Theresa hugs goodbye and commenting that for this, he'd not want to leave...this was the highlight of my weekend. Such kindness, such love. And these little girls, I hope, will NOT have to treck to Walmart or the Mall to get their pictures taken with "Santa" because this is the real deal.