Yes, Saint Nicholas is often celebrated in Waldorf Schools and within the Waldorf Home. And before one worries about Saints being associated with the Waldorf curriculum, I urge you to remember that Saint Nicholas Day is widely celebrated all over Europe.
In the book “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten” as edited by Joan Almon, this is written about the role of Saint Nicholas during Advent: “(Saint Nicholas) is an archetypal figure of heavenly wisdom and is the forerunner of Santa Claus, whose very name is reminiscent of St. Nicholas. Santa Claus, however, is a more earth-bound, incarnated figure who dwells with elves in the North Pole. Though he, too, if full of love for the children, his gifts are more of a material nature, even though he comes on Christmas Eve, a time of profound spiritual giving. One can understand how he arose in our more materialistic, secular age, and one can hold him a positive way for the sake of the children who love him so, but one can also create a place in the Advent season to bring the original, more heavenly St. Nicholas to the children.”
I guess because I have German/Polish/Norwegian/French roots and my husband has Danish/German roots, we love Saint Nicholas Day. Our oldest daughter goes to German School on Saturday mornings and I love to see it celebrated in the community there as well. They leave their shoes out and whilst lessons are going on, Saint Nicholas is busy filling the shoes up with goodies. 🙂
Saint Nicholas Day is on December 6th, although I do believe my Dutch friends celebrate it on December 5th. In Holland, Saint Nicholas comes with “Black Peter” and distributes gifts – some families use a “Sinterklass sack” (did I slaughter that, my Dutch friends??!!) Sometimes he comes with a Golden Book of names to read the names of the good little children!
Saint Nicholas was born either Syria or Turkey in 3 A.D. and eventually became the Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor. There are many stories about Saint Nicholas out there for telling – some involve the provision of a dowry for three daughters, some involve Saint Nicholas bringing food to the starving, some involve calming the seas. He is the Patron Saint of prisoners (Saint Nicholas was persecuted for his faith and spent time in prison), children, sailors and is the Patron Saint of Russia.
Children typically leave out a clean shoe (we leave out wooden clogs from Germany and Holland on our hearth) along with hay and carrots for the horse of Saint Nicholas. I believe some families also make honey cakes and leave those out as well. Usually in return the children receive nuts, candy, chocolates and sometimes gifts as well. Saint Nicholas Eve is the major gift-giving occasion in Holland.
This is a holiday that leads us deeper into Advent, and is one of great joy. If you are seeking more information regarding Saint Nicholas, I suggest you try the Saint Nicholas Center here:http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=23
Here are some Saint Nicholas crafts: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=122 Every year we crack walnuts, hot glue the walnut shell closed and then hot glue that onto a piece of red felt that has been made into a cone shape. On top of that we place the famous Bishop’s mitre and hang it on our tree. Lovely!
Here is a Saint Nicholas story from Main Lesson Dot Com: