St. Nicholas Concert

 

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St. Nicholas posing with two kindergarten girls

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In the early part of the fourth century, St. Nicholas was a Greek speaking bishop in the city of Myra (now called Demre) on the southern coast of present day Turkey. Although Nicholas was born into a wealthy family, he was raised to be a devout Christian and used his entire inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.
St. Nicholas (who was never officially canonized as saint) dedicated his life to serving God, and became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need. He had a reputation for giving anonymous gifts to the poor and would go around at night to drop off money, food, and toys in the hope of making children happy. St. Nicholas remains a patron saint of Christmas, and in the 1670 years since his death, this secret gift-giving has been the inspiration for our present day Santa Claus.
St. Nicholas was a deeply religious bishop who could not tolerate  heresy. In AD 325 during the Council of Nicaea, (the very first ecumenical council), St. Nicholas became so outraged by a theologian called Arius (who argued that Jesus was not equal to God) that he got up, crossed the room, and punched Arius in the face! puchpainting

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St. Nicholas died on December 6th, 343, and was entombed in a shrine in Myra, (present day Turkey). In 1087, after Myra fell under Islamic rule, his relics were stolen and moved to the Basilica of San Nicola, a church in Bari, southern Italy (The church and St. Nicholas’ tomb in the church’s crypt are pictured above). In the 1950’s, an anatomy professor took very detailed measurements of the skull and other bones from within the above tomb. Years later, an expert facial anthropologist created a modern forensic reconstruction of what St. Nicholas looked like.

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How did St. Nicholas become associated with our contemporary image of Santa Claus with a sleigh and reindeer? The association was made almost 200 years ago in an American poem entitled “Twas the night before Christmas”. According to carols.org.uk, “The poem ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ has redefined our image of Christmas and Santa Claus. Prior to the creation of the story of ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeers!” santa6cropped

 

snscrest4 At IHMS, it’s been a long standing tradition to celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas. A feast day is the date a saint is commemorated, and for St. Nicholas it happens to be on the day he died – December 6th. St. Nicholas is especially important to our school community because prior to 1963, Immaculate Heart of Mary School was known as St. Nicholas School.

 

So on Friday, December 5th the students and staff gathered in the gym to welcome Saint Nicholas (or Sviaty Mykolaj) with a short concert. This year, the hosts of the concert were 3 students from grade 6.

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A view of some of the students gathered in the gym (top photo) and the grade 6 students who hosted the St. Nicholas Concert (bottom 2 photos)

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After a brief introduction by Mr. Picklyk, the program began with the kindergarten students singing a song entitled “O xto? xto?”.

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The kindergarten students singing a song calling for St. Nicholas

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During the singing, St. Nicholas entered the gym and moved to the bleachers where the students were assembled. He walked around and greeted them before sitting down to listen to the concert with two angel helpers on either side.

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St. Nicholas with his two “angel helpers”

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Under the direction of Mrs. Stanowych, each of the classes from grade 6 to kindergarten then sang a song to St. Nicholas. The concert concluded with a song that was sung by all the students.

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Each class, pictured in order from grade 6 (top photo) to kindergarten  (last photo) sang a song for St. Nicholas.

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When the concert was over, Saint Nicholas spoke to the kids for a few minutes. He talk, which lasted for only a few minutes, was entirely in Ukrainian.

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St. Nicholas spoke to the kids for a few minutes after the concert

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With assistance from two angel helpers from grade 7, he then handed out goody bags to the kindergarten to grade 3 students. The grade 4-8 students found a similar goody bag on their desk when they got back to class.

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St. Nicholas posing with some of the kindergarten students

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The concert was organized by the school’s Music/Ukrainian teacher, Mrs. Stanowych who is also busy preparing the students for the school’s two Christmas concerts, both less than 2 weeks away. Check back in a few weeks for two more spectacular performances!

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Mrs. Stanowych, the school’s talented Ukrainian and Music teacher