The Lustre of Mid-Day (to Objects Below)

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas! I don’t know about you but before researching this a little bit, I had never seen a photo of St. Nick before. So here you go.

Bam!

The lean and holy Saint Nicholas (pre fat and jolly Santa).

If you want to read a very in-depth back story, click here where this other blogger has laid it out so nicely for us.

The real question is…did anyone receive any coins or chocolates in their shoes this morning?

I don’t know about you guys, but when I was a kid, December 6 helped to build up our anticipation of Christmas Day even more because my mom liked to have us participate in the ritual of putting a shoe out by the front door. In the morning, we’d run to check it and we’d usually have “gold” (chocolate) coins and a few other candies stuffed inside our shoes.

In our chocolate induced haze, we came to associate St. Nick with Santa Claus, though I never really understood the motivation behind having the mini Christmas (or “feast”) versus everything we did on Christmas Day. Wikipedia does a nice job of filling in some holes, though.

Now that I’m all grown up, I’m not currently celebrating the chocolate-in-the-shoe thing but I definitely reflected briefly with a hint of excitement that Christmas is getting closer and closer (and if I were a kid, I’d have enjoyed some chocolate with breakfast…or for breakfast).

Instead, I’m using the Feast of St. Nicholas to do a quick Zoe Recommends. I thought the St. Nick’s day thing would be a fun segue. Today’s Zoe Recommends is…a sunrise clock! It helps to make your room glow with “the lustre of mid-day to objects below,” a line I snagged from the classic poem Twas the Night Before Christmas, which features our boy St. Nick, just in case anyone hadn’t clued in on that.

What’s a sunrise clock, you say? It’s a lamp which you set to go off at a certain time in the morning and for about a half hour, the light goes from very dim to very bright (you set the highest bright setting) and the natural “rising” of the “sun” helps to wake you up more naturally than traditional alarm clocks that we all want to throw through a wall every morning.

Some sunrise clocks look like this:

And others look like this (including mine):

I don’t know if all sunrise lamps come with sounds but mine will not just use the light, it forces you to choose an ambient noise, such as birds chirping or meditation sounds or the radio. I choose the meditation sounds because they’re repetitive but not awful and between them and the light, I much more easily awaken in the morning, especially in the winter when the sun doesn’t come out until after 7 o’clock.

Both Kevin and I have found it sooo much easier to wake up in the mornings with this little baby. We’re in better moods upon getting out of bed (most of the time) and we’re not as aware of the pitch blackness going on outside.

Our sunrise clock is the gift that keeps on giving, year after year, day after day, Feast of St. Nicholas to Feast of St. Nicholas. It’s the new chocolate/gold coins in my shoe.

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Comments

  1. Kevin Schneider says:

    1) I prefer St. Clarence.
    2) I love the holiday traditions! I wish I found chocolate in my shoes, even if it is a bit disgusting!
    3) The sunrise lamp definitely is a big improvement – especially in the winter. It makes a difference.

  2. THE ONE HOLIDAY TRADITION WE DO IS PURCHASE A SPECIAL ORNAMENT EVERY YEAR WITH THE YEAR ON IT, THEN WHEN WE LOOK AT OUR TREE, WE REMEMBER WHAT WE WERE DOING THAT DAY WHEN WE GOT IT. LOVE THE SUNRISE CLOCK!

  3. St. Nicholas is one of my favorite saints–not only because he is venerated throughout Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East by Orthodox and Catholic Christians alike, but because, as a saint, he was kick a**–very hard core. I totally approve of the hyperlink to the Orthodox site about Nicholas, btw. My dad (being German) grew up with the shoe tradition, except one year during the Depression when his father was out of work :-(. They usually got an orange and some candy and maybe a penny (which bought a lot more back then). Those are traditions in Germany/Netherlands/etc. It wasn’t until fairly recently in history (20th century) that people started making a big deal out of Christmas presents, even though decorations and religious celebrations were extremely common. In Germany, during the Reformation, Martin Luther sought to take the emphasis off the saints and put it back on Christ, so he taught that “the Christ child brings the presents.” Now, they have Christkindlmarkt” (Christ Child Markets) all over. But they still celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas and are currently trying to beat back our secular version, Santa Claus. When I lived there, I remember going to Mass on St. Nicholas day and the priest (during his homily) vehemently explaining that people should not allow the Weihnachtsmann (what they call Santa Claus) into their homes. There was even a documentary on Germany TV about the introduction of Santa into German culture–not surprisingly, post WW II, with advertising from Coca Cola.

    • Coca Cola? Holy cow…No wonder they still put Santa on their labels every year. As expected, your history and personal opinion on this issue is very cool and highly valued. I think if I have kids, I’m going to continue the shoe tradition on December 6. I like the idea of small things still having value and being appreciated, be they pennies, penny candy, etc. Thank you, Julia!

      • I’m always glad to put in my two cents, glad to know it’s appreciated :-). I do think that kids really like the St. Nicholas tradition, even if it’s purely culturally connected and not religious. They have a whole thing in Germany on St. Nicholas’ day, when someone dressed as the saint comes to give the gifts to kids (often directly, rather than just in shoes, although he does that too), and he comes with his servant “Knecht Ruprecht.” The kids have to sing or perform tricks of some kind before they get the gifts. There are songs, etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Companions_of_Saint_Nicholas#Knecht_Ruprecht has some more info on/images of Nicholas’ companions in European culture/tradition, and while I’m not always a wikipedia fan, this article is solidly reliable.

      • Cool!! It almost sounds like the holiday version of Halloween…Your input is always welcome, Julia!!

  4. Firstly, I had no idea of St. Nicholas. Seriously, none. I’m of the miss-guided masses that thought St. Nicholas was just a more archaic permutation of Santa Claus. My kids are getting chocolate in their shoes on December 6th, next year!
    Secondly, I think the sunrise clock is an excellent idea. It is black dark at 7am where I am, too, and the only reason that there are not alarm-clock shaped dents in my walls are the very dim early morning realization that I would have to patch those holes myself, later. Gentle light and meditation sound? Perfect.

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