December 6 is Saint Nicholas Day (pol. Swiety Mikolaj).
In the liturgical calendar, we celebrate his feast day. Nicholas was a bishop of Bari, Italy (b. in 270 AD, d. 345 or 352). The only visible evidence of his life and legacy is the magnificent basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari. He is better known throughout the world as the white-bearded chuckling man dressed in red who brings gifts for children in this time of giving we call Christmas. In Polish holiday culture, Swiety Mikolaj or Mikolajki are primarily remembered on this day when children search under their pillow for a present. While we, Poles, Americans (who better know St. Nicolas as Santa Claus) or Polonia enjoy our childhood memories associated with this jolly, robust good natured man-there have been times of crisis, war, and displacement when children could only maybe dream about Santa Claus. This is one of those moments for kids in Ukraine suffering hunger, cold and blackouts under exploding missiles fired by Russian forces. Polish children experienced this hell during WWII-German and Soviet invasions. Today, Poland is at the forefront of welcoming and housing millions of Ukrainian war victims. Let us remember about these children as we celebrate Mikolajki with our family and friends!
Photos display PMA Library collection book Sekrety Swietego Mikolaja (eng. Secrets of St. Nicholas) by Jean-Louis Hue, Ossolineum, 1991; Swiateczne Zwyczaje by Fr. Jan Jaworski, London, 1962; Jan Krawiec Collection cartoon depicting St. Nicholas with a gift sack on his back reading "58 thousand dollars for Polish war victims" and a list in his hand reading: "Ours(refugees) in England, Turkey, Switzerland, Portugal and occupied territory", with a signature "Polonia Council" on his coat rim, Dziennik Zwiazkowy, Feb. 16, 1940.
#santaclaus #saintnicolasday #swietymikolaj #mikolajki #polishwarrefugees #pomagamukrainie
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