Issue 12-21-14 Website - page 11

Saint Nicolas
This week, the second grade
students from theWolcott Street
School will be visiting LeRoy
House to learn a little about how
Christmas was celebrated many
years ago.
Theyaresurprised to learn that
the LeRoy children, probably
didn’t celebrate Christmas in
LeRoy.Maybe theirgrandfather,
Herman LeRoy in New York
City, went to a party or at least
knew about the raucous celebra-
tions in the streets ofNewYork.
Perhaps someone read the
poem, “TheVisit of Saint Nich-
olas”published in the
in 1823. The whole story
of Santa Claus, his sleigh, the
presents, the reindeer and stock-
ingswerementioned inClement
Moore’s poem.
Traditionally, Protestants did
not participate in Christmas
celebrations. In fact, in Puritan
times, Protestantswere prohibit-
ed fromparticipating inany type
of Christmas event – even going
to church. The religious part of
Christmas was considered to be
a part of the Roman Catholic
Church. Ofcourse thatgradually
changed,firstwith theAnglicans
and then theEpiscopalians - - of
which the LeRoy family were
a part. When Moore wrote the
poem, he was specific to note
that it was the “night BEFORE
Christmas” and avoided the
whole issueofwhetherChristmas
was a religious day.
Jacob LeRoy grew up inNew
York City where the New York
Historical Society adopted Saint
Nicholas as its patron saint in
1804. On December 6, 1810
they held an anniversary dinner,
a tradition that continues today.
In 1835, The Saint Nicholas
Society was founded by Wash-
ington Irving. It was open to
members whose ancestors had
come toNewYork City prior to
1785,which included theLeRoy
family.As faras Icandetermine,
Herman LeRoy – Jacob’s father
– was one of the charter mem-
bers, elected to the organization
in 1835.
JacobLeRoywaselected to the
StNicholasSociety in1845. The
St. Nicholas Society continues
today, the “purpose of which is
to preserve knowledge of the
history and customs of New
YorkCity’sDutch forebears. It is
one of the oldest societies in the
United States ... manymembers
aredescended from thecity’sfirst
settlers, who included several
nationalities and faiths aswell as
Saint Nicholaswas a 4thCen-
turyGreekBishop inMyra, now
part of Turkey.
He isknownforhiscompassion
forchildrenand is thepatronsaint
for sailors, merchants, archers,
repentant thieves, brewers, and
pawnbrokers. As I wrote last
week, he was known to have
thrown coins into socks hanging
on a laundry line which became
the story about stockings for
Christmas.The feast ofSt.Nich-
olas is held on December 6, the
date of his death. (the Eastern
Orthodox Church celebrates the
date onDecember 19).
The stories of St. Nicholas
spread throughout Europe. In
home –Saint Nicholas is known
asShenKolleandhis feastday is
celebratedon the eveningbefore
December 6. They light a candle
andabstain fromeatingmeat and
prepare a feast of roast lamb and
pork to serve their guests after
saying, “May the light of Saint
Nicholas help you.”
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