While the parish’s liturgical celebration of the feast of St. Nicholas was on December 19, with approximately a dozen families participating in the liturgy and blessing of the slava kolach, Sunday, December 22 marked the parish-wide and church school celebration of this beloved saint.
On Sunday, the church was full, with many people participating in the sacraments of Holy Confession and Holy Communion. As always, the children carried banners and icons during the small and great entrances. At the end of the divine liturgy, the children left their shoes in the classroom wing of the parish cultural center, finding, after classes, that St. Nicholas had filled them with treats, an ornament embroidered with “Христос се роди!” (Hristos se rodi! – Christ is born!), and a gold-toned U.S. dollar.
The lesson of the day was about Sveti Nikola, beloved of all Orthodox Christians, and perhaps the most common patron saint among Serbian slavas. Following the lesson, the children proceeded to the cultural center. A special container for planting the Christmas wheat, together with a candle and tri-colored ribbon was ready for each child on a meticulously arranged table. The children planted wheat to take home and worked on two craft projects involving painting and designing decorations.
In the spirit of Children’s Day (Detinci), when they had finished their crafts and lunch, the children cheerfully handed poinsettias to their parents and other adults in attendance at the festive event.
The final special activity was a photograph of the church school children in the “photo booth” that Father Vladislav and Popadija Sara had set up on the stage. Several families used the setting to photograph their own children to create a St. Nicholas Day memory.
The parish of St. Stephen is grateful to Father and Popadija for setting up the cultural center and photo booth to welcome the children and for preparing the crafts. The parish is grateful also to the church school staff, parents, and other helpers who guided the children through the stages of the celebration and took the time to aid with clean-up of the craft area.