Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Jeff Lampl

A Completely Made-Up, But with Some Facts Thrown in, True Story About Saint Nick and Jesus

By Pastor Jeff
(so that no one else gets blamed for this)

NOTE:  In Germany and in other parts of Europe Sankt Nikolaus Tag (Saint Nicholas Day) is celebrated on December 6. Nicholas was a third century bishop in Asia minor who loved children and was generous to the underprivileged.  On the evening of December 5 (tonight!), children will put their shoes outside the door of their house hoping that Saint Nicholas will stop by and express his generosity one more time, this time filling the shoes with nuts, fruits and other goodies.

Now the Story!

Once upon a time, when America was still just a collection of British colonies, there were actually more German-speaking people living in in the colony of Penn’s Woods (Pennsylvania) than there were English speaking people!

It came to pass one day that a German family, the Weintraub’s (pronounced Vine Trowp), moved into the important English-speaking town of New London which at the time was bigger than Philadelphia! One of the Weintraub children was named Willy (pronounced Villy)

One day one of Willy’s new neighbors, Harry Hopkins who lived on a farm all the way across the valley, came to visit him.   Harry wanted to introduce himself to this new family and welcome them to New London.  It turned out that Harry and Willy were about the same age.   That day was December 5, 1750.

Harry couldn’t believe his eyes!  The Weintraub family home looked like they were getting ready for Christmas, and for some reason all the children’s shoes were lined up neatly on the porch outside the front door of the house.   But this didn’t make any sense to Harry because Christmas was still more than two weeks away (in those days people didn’t decorate weeks in advance like we do today)

So, Harry asked Willy why they were getting ready for Christmas and why all the children’s shoes were on the porch.  Willy, who didn’t speak English very well, said,  “Vee r making ready for Sankt Nikolaus Tag (Saint Nicholas Day)”.   “What did you say?”  asked Harry.  “Sankt Nikolaus Tag”, replied Willy.  “Sankta what?” asked Harry one more time.  “Sankt Nickolaus Tag” repeated Willy exasperated because he couldn’t get Harry to pronounce it right.

Well, Harry finally went home, a little bit confused.  But he was excited to tell his family all about the Weintraub family putting their shoes on the porch and getting ready for a celebration called something like, “Sankta Nik Klaus” or something like that.    They all kept trying to guess what Harry was saying but after a while they all gave up and settled on calling the thing that Harry was talking about “Santa Claus” day.

Well, as you might guess, there’s even more to the story!

Harry and Willy became friends and visited each other often over the next two weeks even though New London was huge and their farms were across the valley from one another.

So it was that when Harry was visiting Willy a few days before Christmas he asked Willy how his family would be celebrating Christmas.   Willy said, “Vee r vating for KristKindle (Christkindel is the actual German word and it means Christ Child) zu kommen”.

“Who are you waiting to come?” asked Harry?  “KristKindel”, replied Willy. “Krist who?” asked Harry once more having difficulty understanding his friend Willy.  “Kristkindel”, repated Willy.

By that time Harry could hear his mother ringing the cow bell across the valley for him to come home for dinner.   When Harry got home he couldn’t wait to tell his family all about this Krist- somebody who was going to visit the Weintraub’s on Christmas Eve!  His family asked “Krist who?” and Harry answered, “I don’t know, Krist Kind or Krist Krindel or Krist Kringle or something like that”.  So the family settled on Kris Kringle because that was what was easiest for them to say.

Well, you can imagine what happened.

As the years passed people all over New London and then Kennett Square and then Chester County and then Pennsylvania and then eventually all over the whole world began to look forward to the coming of someone called Sankta Klaus or maybe Santa Claus, whose name in real life was apparently Kris Kringle.    Over the years people thought they were the same person!

And as this happened hundreds and thousands and millions of people completely forgot that Santa Claus was really Sankt Nickolaus, a servant of God who gave his life to serving the poor, and that Kris Kringle was really the Christchild, who was God himself having come to earth as baby Jesus, only to grow up and the die on a cross to save the world.

But, guess what!  There are still people all over the world, like the Hopkins and Weintraub families of New London, Pennsylvania who know exactly what they are celebrating on December 6 and on December 25!

I have no doubt that includes you, too!!

PS   My family has had fun Celebrating Saint Nicholas Day.  Why not try doing so yourselves?  Ask your children to put their shoes outside the front door tonight.  Tell them all about Saint Nicholas and let them go to bed wondering if the spirt of Saint Nicholas might move someone to put fruits, nuts or other goodies in their shoes while they are sleeping! When they wake up with their shoes filled, remind them of Saint Nicholas and how his unmerited generosity can remind us of God who is so generous that He gave us Himself!!!

PPS  We have also had fun asking neighbors to put their shoes on the porch and while they slept our children would sneak over to their house and fill their shoes with goodies.   If you do so it will be fun watching the reactions of both our children and the neighbor kids when they wake up and wonder who did that!