Most people know that St. Nicholas (who for the most part has evolved into Santa Claus here in the United States) is the patron saint of children in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. But did you know that this understanding stems from the story of how Nicholas, then Bishop of Smyrna, saved three boys who had been murdered and pickled in brine?! Some people with dark senses of humor honor this aspect of St. Nicholas by eating corned beef today. I'm talking about you, "The Mother."
The whole "stockings hung by the chimney with care" thing stems from another story about the Bishop of Smyrna, who found out that three young daughters of a household in his care were about to be sold into slavery -- which in those times meant prostitution. To prevent this tragedy, Nicholas secretly threw three bags of gold through the family's window -- enough for a dowry for each of the girls. Legend tells us that the bags landed in the girls' stockings, which were hung by the chimney to dry. Thus, when we hang our stockings or put out our shoes in hopes of receiving a Christmas treat, we are honoring St. Nicholas in his role as the patron saint of prostitutes.
Well, for our Advent calendar on the Feast of St. Nicholas, what could be more appropriate than the Clement C. Moore classic? Sometimes this book is titled, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, but it was originally published as A Visit From St. Nicholas. I don't know about you, but somewhere along the way I had to memorize this bad boy in school. This edition has particularly lovely illustrations.
Thanks to all of you who suggested this book!