In our classes, we spend a lot of time talking about Bible heroes like Moses and Abraham and David and Goliath and, of course, Jesus. After the Bible was considered “complete” in the 3rd century, many more heroes arose for the church, including over ten thousand saints. One of them was St. Nicholas of Smyrna. Use this story of St. Nicholas to spark a spirit of kindness and giving in your students.
The Story of St. Nicholas: It’s Tons More Fun to Give than to Receive
There are many cool legends about St. Nicholas. According to one, he passed by a house one day, and he heard girls weeping. He listened hard and came to understand that the young ladies were unable to ever get married. The reason? They had no money for a “dowry,” which was important back then. A “dowry” was either money or jewels or land or belongings given to the future husband’s family.
Back then, St. Nicholas was still known as “Nicholas of Smyrna.” He was not known as anyone particularly special at that point. Except for one thing: His heart was huge.
“Those poor girls!” he thought. “I can’t just walk away from this. I have to do something. To give the money to their father might humiliate and embarrass him. Well…where there’s a will, there’s always a way.”
Secretly, he made up satchels, and in them he put enough gold to make up a dowry for each daughter. A favorite version of the tale is that he saw the girls’ stockings hanging by the fireplace to dry. He reached in and put the satchels in their stockings.
The girls woke up the next morning and couldn’t believe their eyes! They screamed with joy!
Outside in the early morning darkness, Nicholas crouched in the alley.
When he heard their happiness his smile grew really big. He tiptoed off, knowing he had done a great thing! He couldn’t wait to do a kindness for somebody else!
The girls learned a great lesson – that God is listening and will provide people to help if you are in a total jam like they were. Nicholas of Smyrna was working with a lesson he already knew well: It is tons more fun to give than to receive.
Stories of St. Nicholas grew into stories we hear of today about one of our favorite Christmas characters. Who would that be??
The legend of Santa Claus started with this humble and giving saint. It is fun to picture the elderly gentleman leaving a gift that someone like the young daughters desperately needs, sneaking around a corner, waiting to hear them scream with joy. We can imagine him smiling really big, then sneaking off with victorious giggles.