Did you get coal and sticks?

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

Did Black Peter come to visit?

A reader sent this.  Fun!

You well-informed readers can fill in the blanks for those who might not know what is going on here.

In the meantime here is his very terse entry in the 2005 Martyrologium Romanum.

1. Sancti Nicolai, episcopi Myrensis in Lycia, sanctitate et intercessione apud thronum gratiae divinae praeclari.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Speravi says:

    …a reference to the legend that he slapped Arius at the Council of Nicaea…

  2. Athelstan says:

    Sounds like there’s real mayhem in store when St. Nick comes down the chimney at the National catholic Reporter later this month.

  3. Andreas says:

    No Black Peter here in Austria, but we do have the Krampus…the ancient Alpineland manifestation of evil nightmares, akin to the wonderful Brothers Grimm fairytale creatures from our childhood days. It is a long-haired hideous ape-like biped, sporting long pointed horns out of each side of its head. Rather nasty looking fangs and a long pointy tongue are found within a malodorous twisted mouth. Krampus oozes Albtraum evil from every pore. They prance and run, growling and loudly proclaiming their presence by ringing huge bells attached to belts about their ‘waists’ and rattling large rusty chains. Most parents will not permit Krampus to enter their homes when there are very small children about; only the older children need take heed. Whatever its manifestation, Krampus takes the miscreant child, and provides some type of punishment…. be it a light slap on the rear with a bundle of branches, or some other form of “strafe”…all of this to theoretically instill sufficient fear into the child so as to preclude further misdemeanors during the year to follow. (Narrative adapted from my BLOG)

  4. Patti Day says:

    The train tracks were about 30′ from my bedroom window. There was actually a coal tender and a red caboose. Sometimes we would find a piece of coal beside the tracks, which was like finding something from the ancient past, since we had gas heat.

  5. Margaret says:

    You know, there’s a certain six-year-old in our house who really should have gotten an warning lump of coal in with his tangerine and chocolate this morning. But I was too wiped out last night to think that clearly.

  6. Nan says:

    Not even coal.

    For anyone who doesn’t know, St. Nicholas punched Arias at the Council of Nicea in 325. Arianism is the belief that Jesus, the son is not equal to God, the Father. The Nicene Creed came in here with the words “god from god, light from light, true god from true god, consubstantial with the father.” We also get the filioque, but that’s another story/

  7. An American Mother says:

    Arias had it coming.

    I used that story to convince my youngest that Saint Nicholas was a tough guy and worthy of respect.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    I made a huge mistake of giving my fiance as a joke lumps of coal in a sock one year, (while the real present, Belgian chocolates were hidden). We did not get married. He was not amused.

    However, today I got cupcakes from a friend, which was sweet and no coals or “switches” as we called them. Some of you might want more on St. Nick, so visit here for two things. http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.ie/2012/12/the-three-pickled-boys.html

    and http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.ie/2012/12/feast-of-st-nicholas.html

  9. Pingback: Happy Feast of St. Nicholas! « The Port Stands At Your Elbow

  10. Supertradmum says:

    Arius had been Nicholas’ student, and that is why he had the authority and the anger to slap him. Nicholas was subsequently put in prison by the Emperor, who favoured Arianism and only an angelic visitation caused Nicholas to regain his peace. The Blessed Virgin dressed him as a bishop in prison and he was freed of his chains, but the saint just waited until morning. When Constantine heard this, he freed Nicholas , who could then resume his work against the Arians. The old icons of the Eastern Church have such stories as these around his face many times. These are great stories for children in order to create a Church Militant.

  11. Clinton R. says:

    Oh, for the days when heresy was fought against with zeal! May St. Nicholas pray for the Holy Church and for all children, especially the most vulnerable in their mothers’ wombs. +JMJ+

  12. PostCatholic says:

    Sadly, I didn’t have the opportunity for a fistfight with a Catholic bishop today.

  13. benedetta says:

    PostCatholic, you ought not to flatter yourself. You’re not a Heretic, just a garden-variety unbeliever.

  14. PostCatholic says:

    Good to know I won’t be burned at the stake, then. (Merely in eternity?)

  15. ljc says:

    Besides referencing the St. Nick / Arius event, it is also a reference to a line from the 1988 movie “They Live” : “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
    See the original scene: http://youtu.be/iHwOKw0wk6g

  16. acardnal says:

    PostCatholic, you may not be “burned at the stake” but you may have your head chopped off or be stoned to death in a Muslim country for certain sinful behaviors opposed to Islam. We Christians hate the sin but not the sinner. We are praying for your “reversion” to the one, true faith.

  17. chantgirl says:

    PostCatholic- I’m sure that something could be arranged. We’d just have to find a Bishop with some boxing experience. Any Bishop takers?

  18. Supertradmum says:

    Post Catholic, OK, now I am sincerely worried about you. Please do not take pride in rebellion. Prayers coming your way, now.

  19. PostCatholic says:

    “PostCatholic, you may not be “burned at the stake” but you may have your head chopped off or be stoned to death in a Muslim country for certain sinful behaviors opposed to Islam. ”

    Not sure which ‘Muslim country’ you have in mind, acardnal, nor which ‘sinful behaviors’ you mean, but I am aware that theistic orthodoxy does get taken to extremes in many places in the world.

    In any event, I was only trying to make a self-deprecating joke, which seems to have backfired. I’ll recuse myself.

  20. Winfield says:

    Today’s WSJ has a positive review of a new biography of St. Nicholas, “The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra,” by Adam C. English.

  21. Bea says:

    After Good Old St. Nicolas was thrown in prison, his Pallium and Bible were taken from him, as if to verify that he was no longer a Bishop for being so “uncharitable” to Arias, who had a great following at the time. He was also thrown in jail for his “uncharitable” act. Our Lady and Our Lord appeared to him there, and Our Lady presented him with his Pallium and Our Lord presented him with a Bible. When Constantine saw this, he immediately restored St Nicholas to his See.

    As to the gifts: a shoemaker had no more money to support his family and was going to give up (sell) his daughters to prostitution. St, Bishop Nicholas heard of this and threw in bags of money for a dowry so that his daughters would not be subject to such a heinous end.

    As to “Black Peter” he is a legendary figure in the Holland/Belgium/Netherlands area that accompanies Santa Claus with the list of “naughty children” . Some say he was a Moor converted by St. Nicholas, others say he turned black from climbing down chimneys. He was also referred to as a black elf that was a slave/assistant to St. Nicholas.

  22. Random Friar says:

    Some group called “Catholic Memes” just started up a bit ago on Facebook and web: http://www.catholicmemes.com/

    @ljc: A sadly underappreciated movie for its time.

  23. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I have read that ‘Peter’ did not get to be the most common name for St. Nicholas’s servant(s)/helper(s) until the 1890s and that among other names was ‘Sabas’, presumably after St. Sabas whose Feast is 5 December, upon which (in the evening) the folk celebrations most commonly take place (including visits from St. Nicholas and Black Peter). Then again, ‘Sabas’ also sounds a lot like ‘Saba’ and it is imaginable that there is some connection between St. Nicholas’s black helper(s) and the entourage of St. Balthasar in the folk celebrations of the Epiphany. It is also interesting that the name ‘Peter’ became so characteristic around the time of the canonization of St. Peter Claver (1888) and the proclamation of his special missionary patronage (1896) by Leo XIII. Curiously, the folk celebration of St. Nicholas seems to have taken off in a big way among many Dutch Protestants around the time of the re-establishment of the hierarchy (1853).

    Hearkening back to a recent post, Urban II while in France in 1096 personally dedicated the Church of St. Nicolas d’Angers, and, a month later, a cemetery to St. Nicholas in Tours. In 1089, he had also dedicated the new St. Nicholas basilica in Bari, and would go on preside over the aspiring reunion Council there, in the presence of St. Nicholas translated relics, in 1098.

    Music lovers may be happy to note that a 13th-c. MS. of St. Godric’s 12th-c. St. Nicholas hymn is reproduced in the English Wikipedia article, “Godric of Finchale”.

  24. Gregory DiPippo says:

    I wonder if St. Nicolas would think it a heresy to deny that the Saints perform miracles. Just askin’…

    Myrae, quae est metropolis Lyciae, natalis sancti Nicolai, Episcopi et Confessoris, de quo, inter plura miraculorum insignia, illud memorabile fertur, quod Imperatorem Constantinum ab interitu quorumdam se invocantium, longe constitutus, ad misericordiam per visum monitis deflexit et minis.

  25. Mariana says:

    Random Friar,
    Thanks, some seriously hilarious stuff there, like the Father Christmas being arrested for identity theft with Bishop Saint Nicholas looking on!

  26. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    I am struck by the fact that “Father Nicholas Christmas” says, in his letter to the Tolkien children dated “24th December” 1930, “there is lots more I should like to say – about my green brother and my father, old Grandfather Yule, and why we were both called Nicholas after the Saint (whose say is December sixth) who used to give secret presents” (Letters from Father Christmas, ed. Baillie Tolkien (London: HarperCollins, 2009 pb ed. of 2004 revised ed.), p. 57).

    Might this mean that “Santa Claus” is another name for Father Nicholas Christmas (or vice versa) and that “Father Nicholas” is in some sense entitled to the designation “Santa” or even “St. Nick”?

  27. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Sorry!: “day” not “say”!

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