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St. Nicholas paid a visit to IHMS on Friday, December 6th


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 counci), 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! nicholas-punches-ariush5


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 (pictured above).


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, “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 6th 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.


The three MC’s for the St. Nicholas Concert


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


Kindergarten students attemptting to summon St. Nicholas with a song


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.


 St. Nicholas sat down with his two “angel helpers” after entering the gym and greeting the students


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.


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


When the concert was over, Saint Nicholas spoke to the kids for a few minutes. 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.


 St. Nicholas speaking to the students after the concert (top photo) and then giving out goody bags to some of the kindergarten students (remaining photos).


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!


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



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