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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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In Holiday Guide Commentary

Do you celebrate St. Nick?

Social Circle: Is celebrating St. Nick overkill?


The "Social Circle" is a group effort between readers, social networkers and the OnMilwaukee.com editors. Every Monday, we ask a question via Facebook and Twitter and then post the responses from our Facebook "likers" and Twitter followers in this column. Well-known Milwaukee movers and shakers will contribute, too.

The German custom of putting out shoes or stocking on the eve of December 5th for St. Nicholas – also known as St. Nick – is commonly observed in Milwaukee but not very often in other parts of the country.

This week, we asked the Social Circle if it thought celebrating St. Nick was excessive considering Hanukkah and Christmas and other December gift-focused holidays.

Most people said they liked the tradition. What are your thoughts on celebrating St. Nick?

Lori Ahrenhoerster: "I'm just waiting for the frickin' Elf on the Shelf to start leaving gifts ... "

Brian Brehmer: "It's a tradition that one can either take or leave."

Erica Broussard: "Overkill. I grew up in California. There was no St. Nick observance out west. And now this Elf on the Shelf business?! Ugh. It's too much about buying things. I think if the gifts are thoughtful it's OK (like something homemade and some healthy snacks) but my kid grew up without St. Nick and she's just fine. The magic should be celebrated. Not the wants and gifts."

Jessica Dwyer: "I only observe Festivus."

Damien Jaques: "I don't care when families choose to do the big dump. Just bring it under control. The retail frenzy is nauseating."

Linda Gee-Synor: "We always did St. Nick's growing up, as well. Great memories of finding walnuts, cracking them open to find a quarter inside. My mom took the time to do this for four kids! The stockings usually had the walnuts, orange, socks and a few candies. Simple but meaningful. We will keep the tradition going. Luckily my mom reminds me every year to remember to put the stockings out."

Andrea Grisar Judson: "I love St. Nick's Day. It reminds me of my mom, Milwaukee and my German heritage. Very basic things go in our stockings. A few treats, maybe a small book, an apple. My mom used to put these hard popcorn balls in but it was still awesome."

Betsy Holmes: "Kinda gave me fits when my son's friends got video games and other 'high end' stuff for St Nick's. Also because it wasn't part of my family's tradition, I came to associate this holiday with a high stress night visit to Walgreens to join the other high-stressed parents."

Pat Jensen: "We keep St. Nick simple – a treat like special candy or a packet of gourmet hot cocoa is left. I feel like it becomes overkill when things like electronics and DVDs, etc., start taking the place of the simple act of giving a small indulgent treat, which if memory serves me correct is the original intent of this day, to enjoy and savor as opposed to just more stuff."

Dina Lewandowski: "It's mostly a Wisconsin thing and especially Milwaukee area. I think its a bit much but participated while my son was young. I like the advent calendar better."

Claudine Lienau: "My kids are too old for St. Nick now."

Erin Shea Linnane: "I love St Nick's! I'll do it as long as I can. It's a family tradition."

Chris Peppas: "We celebrated St. Nick's growing up. It was the name day (for Greeks equal of birthdays) of my grandfather and we always put out a stocking. Mostly filled with fruit. Some peanuts, a candy cane and one small gift like socks or a belt. l will put a stocking out tonight."

Elysabeth Reichman: "I love it. Just a kick off to the season, to me. Plus, our St. Nick didn't leave anything exorbitant. Just socks and snacks and oranges."

Amber Rico: "I'm originally from California and neither I nor any of my family or friends had ever heard of St. Nick's. It's fun to celebrate but a little weird to me at the same time."

Paul Roberts: "St. Nick is as much a traditional event as any other and lately Boxing Day is too."

Monica Thomas: "Stocking stuffers is to Christmas presents as snack is to meal."

Amy Serio: "Born and raised in a German / Catholic family. Christmas without St Nick is like Christmas with the tree, carols or lights."

Ruadhan Ward: "For my family and I, it's not about getting more presents and overstocking. It's about having a little teaser gifts to get everyone into the spirit, as well as having things that are more functional! No one wants to get socks on Christmas, so socks come on St. Nick.

Liz Maynard Zurich: "We always did St. Nick as a kid so he comes for my kids, too. Its usually something like a Christmas pin, PJs or something to do or wear while waiting for Christmas. It's part of our family tradition not just another reason to give my kids gifts."


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