December 19 Ukrainian Greek Catholics and Orthodox Celebrate St. Nicholas Day
St. Nicholas Day is celebrated according to the Julian calendar on December 19.
St. Nicholas is the guardian of soldiers, travelers, students, sailors and archers. In Ukraine, he is the patron saint of children. On the eve of December 19 children receive gifts from St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas - the Bishop of Myra in Lycia, is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker for the many miracles attributed to his intercession.
He was born in Asia Minor in the late third century to a wealthy Christian family. Since childhood, Nicholas had special piety and compassion to the disadvantaged and poor. As a young man, Nicholas moved to Myra where the bishop ordained him as a priest.
After the death of his parents, Nicholas received an inheritance, which he gave away to the poor. Nicholas dedicated his whole life to acts of charity. It is believed that Nicholas was involved in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325. He died on December 6, 345.
On May 22 (9) Christians celebbrate the transfer of the relics of St. Nicholas from Myra to Bari, Italy. A temple to honor St. Nicholas was built there and consecrated by Pope Urban II.
The feast of St. Nicholas came to Ukrainian lands with Christianity. The ninth rule of the Charter of the Kyiv Metropolitan George (1072) mentions that the Holy Communion was held on the day commemorating St. Nicholas. Many churches in Ukraine are dedicated to St. Nicholas.
In ancient times, on the feast of St. Nicholas people made beer, baked cookies, and celebrating with many national traditions. In contemporary Ukraine this is the biggest holiday for children.