St Nicholas Festival was founded to increase awareness of the life, history and traditions relating to St Nicholas and to raise money in aid of organisations and charities that benefit young people, both locally and further afield. Since its registration as a charity in 2005 St Nicholas Festival has raised over £55,000 and given grants to twenty-one different children’s organisations and charities. Each year the trustees nominate the organisations to benefit from their fundraising but they also give small emergency grants when disaster strikes.
The Festival holds fund raising events throughout the year culminating in the Parade through the streets of Canterbury to celebrate St Nicholas Feast Day. The Saint Nicholas Festival is a Canterbury based grant giving charity run by volunteer trustees. It is separate from the Saint Nicholas Society which is an international organisation promoting the values of Saint Nicholas.
Who was St Nicholas?
Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children. He was born in Lycia, Asia Minor, in about 270AD and died on 6the December 340AD. His parents died when he was young and he was brought up in a monastery. Nicholas became a priest at the age of 17 and travelled through Palestine and Egypt before returning to Myra where he was made Bishop.
From his youth Nicholas always cared for others and gave away the wealth he inherited from his parents to those in need. Legends tell of him rescuing sailors from a storm, restoring to life 3 young boys who had been murdered by a butcher and helping 3 daughters of a poor local man by anonymously giving each a bag of gold.
After his death Nicholas’ good works led to him becoming a Saint and people celebrated his feast day by giving presents. This practice is still followed in the Netherlands and Germany whilst elsewhere it has been incorporated into the celebration of Christmas. The name St Nicholas changed over the years to become Santa Claus – our Father Christmas.