For today’s Sunday Dinner, I’m inviting you to pull up a chair as I share some fun research behind the Christmas traditions I include in my upcoming historical romance, As Silent as the Night. This is the first of three posts and in it, I’ll share about St. Nicholas Day.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado please tell us interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
My favorite Christmas tradition is to look at Christmas lights. This is even more fun when there is lots of snow.
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
As Silent as the Night is the third book in my Strike to the Heart series
He can procure anything, except his heart’s deepest wish. She might hold the key, if she’s not discovered first.
Chicago, 1933―Lucia Critelli will do anything for her ailing grandfather, including stand in a breadline to have enough food to make him a St. Nicholas Day meal. When she catches the eye of a goon who threatens her grandfather, she discovers the end of Prohibition doesn’t mean the end of the mafia’s criminal activity.
Retired Marine Scout Giosue “Gio” Vella can find anything, especially if it helps a fellow Italian immigrant, so he has no doubt he can locate his neighbor’s granddaughter, who has gone missing from a local church. Keeping her safe is another matter. Especially when he chooses to hide out with his Marine buddy in Eagle, Wisconsin, the site of a barely-held truce among striking dairy farmers.
Will Christmas bring the miracle they all need or will Gio discover there are some things even he can’t find, particularly when he stumbles upon the most elusive gift of all: love.
What made you choose to begin your story on St. Nicholas Day?
I’ve always loved learning about the history behind traditions. In this case, St. Nicholas Day in 1933 fell on the day after the Volstead Act was repealed (the official ending happened in the evening) so that the newspapers announcing the end of prohibition were dated December 6th. The combination provided a perfect beginning for As Silent as the Night.
What is St. Nicholas Day?
St. Nicholas Day is celebrated in the US on December 6. It is a feast day to celebrate St. Nicholas of Myra, a historical figure who lived around 300 AD and is known for his great many acts of kindness. Because of the stories of his aid, St. Nicholas has become the patron saint of children and unmarried women. His reputation grew outside of his community so that his story became wrapped in myth and legend. And now, we in the United States call that figure St. Nick or Santa Claus.
How is St. Nicholas Day historically celebrated?
Different cultures will celebrate differently, but in Gio and Lucia’s community, St. Nicholas Day was often celebrated by leaving out shoes or cooking with certain spices. Single ladies would also perform a special ritual in hopes of gaining a husband.
How can we celebrate St. Nicholas Day today?
Whether you believe in Santa or acknowledge patron saints, Nicholas of Myra was a real person who cared for the poor around him, especially the most vulnerable (unmarried women and children). December 6 is a great day to offer the same to those around us, whether by serving in a soup kitchen, donating to a women’s shelter, or gathering toys for children … There are a myriad of ways we can follow in St. Nicholas’s footsteps. And what better way to celebrate Christmas than by giving?
Were resources easy or difficult to find on this topic? Do you have a favorite resource?
There are many resources easily accessible on the history of Nicholas of Myra, however, since he lived so long ago and the stories about him have morphed over the years—not to mention how St. Nicholas has become the Santa figure—it can sometimes be challenging to find accurate, specific details, especially about his acts of kindness.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
I would have loved to mention more stories about his acts of kindness and the gifts he gave, as well as how the day is celebrated around the world.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Thank you for joining me today!
If you would like to purchase a copy of As Silent as the Night, you can find purchase links on this landing page. If you’d like to learn more about me, you can visit my About Me page, which also has my newsletter sign up and social media links.
Over Sunday Dinner next week I’ll be back to talk about another Christmas celebration that appears in As Silent as the Night. See you then!