st nicholas day

who needs one more thing to remember and celebrate in the month of December? isn’t it already full to overflowing with obligations and too much stuff? at our house, the celebration of Advent and its feasts has given us a chance to step away from the obligations. it has created a way to enjoy the season and truly turn our hearts as our earth turns again toward the light.

the celebrations that i’ll be describing in the next few days are simple and practical and inexpensive. lots of people bake at the holidays. why not throw some ginger in the cookie dough and call them St Nicholas day cookies! our efforts to bring more attention and thought to our celebrations will be rewarded.

December 6 (tomorrow!) is the feast day of St Nicholas, a perfect way to gently begin the Christmas season. Nicholas was a bishop in Myna in the early 4th century. today he is remembered as the patron saint of children.

in Holland children leave their shoes (instead of their stockings) out on the night of the 5th. they wake to find them filled with little practical things that they need–school supplies and the like. the next day at tea time, children enjoy speculaas cookies…little gingerbread treats in the shape of St Nicholas.

last year we made the simple and moist ginger oatmeal cake from the More with Less cookbook. then we cut the cake into small squares, cut a few of the squares in half on the diagonal, and made these cute little houses. a sprinkle of powdered sugar on the roof for some snow and a pretzel for a chimney to complete the look!

Ginger Oatmeal Cake

Combine and let stand for 30 minutes:
1 c quick oats
1 1/2 c boiling water
Cream together:
1/2 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c white sugar (we always use less)
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
oatmeal mixture
Sift together and add to the creamed mixture:
1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2t salt
1 t cinnamon (we use pumpkin pie spice)
1 t ginger
Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes

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