Sunday, 6 December 2009


“Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living.” - Amanda Bradley

Today is St Nicholas’ Feast Day. St Nicholas was a bishop of Myra in Asia Minor in the 4th century.  Even as a baby, legend recounts, he was so pious that he would not suckle milk on Wednesdays and Fridays, the Days of Penance and Fasting.  He is reputed to have saved three maidens from prostitution one night by throwing to them through their window three golden balls, which they used as dowry. He also revived three murdered boys that were thrown in a brine tub.  He is thus considered the patron saint of children.  The connection with the brine may also account for his patronage of sailors in some countries (e.g. Greece).  Pawnbrokers also claim the saint as their own, using the three golden balls recounted in the saint’s story as an emblem.

The Saint is associated in the northern European countries especially with gift-giving to children and Santa Claus is a corruption of the name of Saint Nicholas. In Holland, where I lived for a while, Sinter Claes Day is an excuse for a lovely celebration where the saint dressed up in his bishop’s regalia and accompanied by his black servant (Zwarte Piet) visits little children and leaves them gifts.

As it was my day to celebrate today, I did just that. We woke up rather late (slept in till seven in the morning!) and after snuggling in bed for a while I got up and had a lovely breakfast in the garden. The temperature was a little cool, but the morning sun was very pleasant and we sipped our coffee and listened to some music surrounded by the flowers and greenery, smelling the wonderful smells of the morning garden.

We then decided to go out and we drove to Croydon where there is a Sunday Market. We sometimes visit this market as it is quite a small but always busy one. Besides the regular stall holders there are always some surprises and one may occasionally find a little treasure hiding out amongst the trash. Today I found three very good books as well as some CDs and a couple of DVDs. We walked to the mall adjacent to the market and just enjoyed the festive air of the Christmas decorations and the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy, which has well and truly started.

We went back home for lunch and watched a movie in the afternoon. We were frequently interrupted by phone calls of well-wishers for my name day. Then some gardening and for dinner we went out. We went to a lovely old hotel near where we live, the Old England Hotel in Heidelberg. This offers a range of services including accommodation, a restaurant, a pub, a coffee shop as well as a gambling venue (thankfully I’ve never had the inclination to sample the last!).

We partook of a lovely fishy dinner with oysters, lobster and fish, all washed down with an excellent oaky South Australian Chardonnay. The day was very enjoyable and restful and celebratory and in fact, what more could I have wished for my name day?

For Art Sunday today, am Italian fresco illustrating the St Nicholas story. It is from Giornico, I the St. Nicolao church, painted by Nicolao da Seregno, ''A miracle of St. Nicholas'', frescoes decorating the apse, 1478.


  1. Congratulations on your name day. You did spend it well! Thanks for taking us all along.

  2. Sounds as though you had a happy name Day, Nicholas! Here's wishing you many happy returns!
    I would love visiting the market you describe and the hotel looks very nice!

  3. I've no idea if there is such a thing as a Saint Fi's day :), though I've always associated St Nicholas with Santa Claus..from what you've said I can now see how this came about.

    Sounds like you had a great day celebrating your name day.

    Many jolly St Nicholas' days to come!

  4. Lovely post. Belated good wishes on your Name Day.

    I hope this posts as Blogger is giving problems today