This past week we have been celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, patron of children, travelers, sailors, merchants, and the Byzantine Catholic Church. We put out our shoes the night before to find them filled with our usual simple treats of chocolate coins and our first candy canes and clementines of the season. Sometimes extra goodies are secretly tucked into shoes by Christkindls, and the little girls also found a new picture of the good saint to color. Mary Rose kindly shares her St. Nicholas Coloring Page here, with the Bishop pictured in traditional Byzantine style vestments: Download Saint Nicholas by MRK 2016-12-06 (c) ponderedinmyheart
We like a big pot of cocoa for feast day breakfasts, and it went very nicely with these Harvest Pumpkin Scones, studded with as much chrystallized ginger as you can bear to chop up (plus a little more) and the clementines. Janey was overjoyed to get some of these homemade dog biscuits for her treat. (They looked so good folks would be tempted to eat them on fast days if it weren't for the parsley.)
At teatime I read aloud Kersti and St. Nicholas by Hilda van Stockum, a new favorite tradition since we first got the book a few years ago. While the "new edition has been abridged and adapted by the author's family to make it more accessible to young readers of today," we naturally had to obtain a copy of the original hardcover picture book. Though there are indeed some things that would not pass muster by today's PC standards, it is delightful to read the text as it was written by the author. There are more pictures and verses, the ending is slightly different, and Kersti's doll goes by Fat Girlie (imagine!). Anna found a real Dutch doll in her shoe too.
We also made a boatload of these pierniczki, traditional Polish honey spice cakes, to bring and share at the church's festive brunch today in honor of St. Nicholas. We used the Janina's Piernik recipe found here -scroll down the page for the recipe along with a picture of the traditional icing pattern. Josiah made a wonderful St. Nicholas cookie cutter for me and it worked perfectly for the cookies. The kitchen smelled amazing last night as Lydia boiled the honey and spices together, and the resulting fragrant dough was lovely to work with. We used this recipe for the icing - my first time making royal icing! We just bought a carton of pasteurized egg whites for the recipe and it worked beautifully. The cookies turned out delicious and taste very similar to the decorated Hungarian Mézeskalács I remember so well from childhood.
O Saint Nicholas, bountiful Father and special Patron of our Byzantine Catholic Church. You are a shepherd and teacher to all who invoke your protection, and who, by devout prayer, call upon you for aid. Hasten and save the flock of Christ from ravenous wolves; and by your holy prayers protect all Christians and save them from worldly disturbances, earthquakes, attacks from abroad, from internal strife, from famine, flood, fire, sword, and sudden death. As you had mercy on those three men in prison and saved them from the king's wrath, now also have mercy on me who by word, deed, and thought have sunk into the darkness of sin. Save me from the just anger of God, and from eternal punishment. Through your intercession and aid as well as through his own mercy and grace, may Christ our God allow me to lead a tranquil and sinless life, and save me from standing at "his left," but deem me worthy to stand at "his right" with all the saints. Amen.