Thursday, December 5, 2013

Preparing for St. Nicholas Day - Countdown to Christmas - Day 5

Today is the fifth day of our Countdown to Christmas. This is what we did:


In preparation for tomorrow’s visit with the seniors at the nursing home that includes a presentation about St. Nicholas as well as a cat visit, I made the Klausenbaum and found some information about the symbolism of it to share with the seniors as well as Sophia and Olivia tomorrow.

We learned that the Klusenbaum pre-dates the Advent wreath as well as the Christmas pyramid. The three sides represent the trinity; and the four apples represent the four elements of earth (air, wind, water, and fire).

A Klausenbaum without the candle in the top apple 
since the nursing home where we're bringing it can't have candles. 
There are foil-wrapped chocolate coins around the base.

We also made sure we had everything ready for the display: several St. Nicholas figures (wooden and ceramic), Santa figures that had a component that related to St. Nicholas, the red felt underlay, and green wool for the display. Also found two over-sized pine cones to represent trees.

The girls found a white horse and we used the donkey from the nativity scene - both to represent what St. Nicholas was said to ride upon, depending on the country from which his story is told.

The girls finished putting coins into the shoes that Olivia colored.

Olivia is telling Montague that he shouldn't even think about 
trying to take those chocolate coins that he's eyeing.

They put a nursing home resident's name on the back and then our names so that it would remind them of the St. Nicholas/cat visit tomorrow morning.

Sophia and Olivia writing names on the back of the shoes.

We also got ready for a visit from St. Nicholas during the night. The girls put out shoes for him by the Christmas tree - one for each member of our family.

This is the fourth day of Chalica. On this day, the focus is on a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. One thing we did that ties into today and tomorrow is to learn something new about St. Nicholas and his helper.

Some of the many things we learned include:

=>Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey.

=> His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.

=> He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.


Advent Reading

Luke 1:18-20 - Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in [a]years.”

The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”


Christmas Joke

What has a jolly laugh, brings you presents and scratches up your furniture?

(Santa Claws.)


Christmas Fact

 We learned why we put ornaments on the tree:

This is a German tradition, started as early as 700 A.D. In the 1800s the tradition of a Christmas tree was widespread in Germany, then moved to England.

An ornament in the shape of a cardinal - a favorite bird of my Dad's
and the girls' grandfather.

Legend has it that the tradition was begun by Martin Luther in Germany. He was a monk and church reformer who lived from 1483 to 1546.

An ornament I brought back from my trip to Alaska many years ago.

According to the legend, Luther was returning home one wintry night when he saw the stars twinkling in the sky through the tree branches. Luther was amazed by the sight, and when he arrived home, he was eager to tell his family about it. To help them understand, he went to the woods and cut down a small fir tree.

A hand-embroidered wool felt ornament that 
Olivia made many years ago.

Luther brought it indoors and decorated it with candles, which represented the stars he had seen. The custom spread in Germany, and from there all over the world.

A hand-crafted ornament that my Mom gave the girls
since they both enjoy horses so much.

In England, the Christmas tree first appeared when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, who was German.

One of the ornaments my parents had on the tree when I was a child.

In 1841, Albert set up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle near London to remind him of his homeland. This tree was decorated in the finest of hand blown glass ornaments.

Since everyone liked the Queen they copied her Christmas customs including the Christmas tree and ornaments.

A hand-embroidered ornament made by one of the Hmong women 
who sold their handicrafts in St. Paul at a support organization for new refugees.

F.W. Woolworth brought the glass ornament tradition to the United States in 1880.

A Chinese Santa that we brought back from China
when Sophia was adopted in 2001.

Woolworths first sold manufactured Christmas tree ornaments, and they caught on very quickly.

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