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St. Nicholas enjoying the concert with his 2 “angel helpers”


Si. Nicholas school patch
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.


St. Nicholas was a fourth century 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..


Top photo: The Basilica of San Nicola, a rather plain looking church in southern Italy (the interior is much more ornate than the exterior). Bottom photo: The crypt under the church where St. Nicholas’ remains are entombed. The crypt has been converted into a shrine to accommodate faithful pilgrims from all over the world.



stn 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.


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



Students and parents waiting for St. Nicholas in the school gym


In recent years, IHMS has been celebrating the feast day of St. Nicholas with music and goody bags for the kids. So, on Thursday, December 7th the students and staff of IHMS gathered in the gym to welcome Saint Nicholas (or Sviaty Mykolaj) with a short musical performance. After a brief introduction by Mr. Picklyk, the program began with everyone singing a song entitled “O xto? xto?”.


St. Nicholas entering the gym (top photos) and Mr. Picklyk welcoming him (bottom photo)


During the singing, St. Nicholas entered the gym and moved to the front of the gym where the students were assembled. He greeted the students before sitting down to listen to a musical performance with his two grade 7 “angel helpers” by his side. Three grade 6 students – Natalia Z., Maksym P., and Nicholas W. narrated the concert with a short description before each song.


St. Nicholas talking to the students (first two photos); the grade 6 narrators (third photo); and the students from grade 6 to  kindergarten singing a different song to St. Nicholas (bottom 7 photos).


After speaking to the kids for a few minutes, 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 posing with some of the kindergarten students


The short concert for St. Nicholas was organized by Mrs. Stanowych, the school’s Music/Ukrainian teacher. In addition to the St. Nicholas concert, Mrs. Stanowych is also busy preparing for the school’s two Christmas concerts, both only a few weeks away:

  • The K-3 concert entitled “Humbug” on Tuesday December 20 and
  • The 4-8 concert entitled “Miracle on Bethlehem Street” on December 21

Check back in a few weeks for two spectacular performances!


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








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