When my older children were young we had a lot of fun putting on a puppet show for the Feast of St. Nicholas. This was the day we gave our children stockings. We set them out on the evening of the 5th after the children were in bed. St. Nicholas Day was greeted with yelps of joy when they saw their goodies in the stockings. It was the one day they were allowed to munch throughout their lessons!
Mary Reed Newland’s book gives instructions on making simple sock puppets for both St. Nicholas and Black Pete.
The following is her suggestion for a play. We used hers and added to it our own touches.
One year we did it all in poem form and another year the puppet, St. Nicholas, threw the stockings out to each child, surprising one of them with a stocking full of straw! It was my brother (he was older) and he got a big kick out of it, but it made the other kid’s eyes open wide in shocked bewilderment! They were all relieved when they found out it was a joke and the recipient received his stocking after all. 🙂
This kind of thing will certainly make the Feast Days come alive for the children!
The following is by Mary Reed Newland The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season
Everyone assembles after dinner on December 5, the vigil of the feast, and the puppet show begins.
First, St. Nicholas appears, bowing with dignity and murmuring, “Thank you, thank you,” to the shouts and clapping.
He has a Dutch accent (just for merriment), and if your accent isn’t all it might be, frequent interpolations of “Ja, ja” convince all present that it is superb.
“Good evening, little children,” he says. “I am St. Nicholas. Ja – a real saint I am, in Heaven now, and my feast is celebrated tomorrow. You are going to celebrate my feast? Ja? Good!
“I am not, you know, the reason for Christmas. Although I am sometimes called Santa Claus, I am not the reason for Christmas. Oh, no. Baby Jesus is the reason for Christmas. It is His birthday, Christmas, the day His Father in Heaven gave Him to all of us.
“I am waiting in Heaven, now, like you on earth, for His birthday on Christmas Day. And do you want to know something? That is why I gave gifts to little children when I was on earth! Because I was so grateful to God the Father for giving Jesus to me.
That is why we give each other presents on Christmas Day, because we are full of joy and gladness that Jesus came down to be one of us and to die to pay for our sins.
“Now, here is something you may do for my feast, and it pleases me very much. You hang your stockings tonight, and if you are very good children, you will get cookies in them!
But if you are bad…. Ahhh, if you are bad, you will get – not cookies – but straw!
Black Peter will put straw in your stockings.”
Up pops Black Peter, giggling and snickering and wagging his hands at the audience, which promptly rolls on the floor and shrieks.
The bishop is grave. “Peter! Peter! Behave yourself, or I will have to use a switch on you! Peter, you are going to put straw in some stockings? Jah?”
Peter looks coy, cocks his head, and makes odd noises that say neither aye nor nay.
“Ah, he will not tell. Peter, be fair now. No straw for the good children, you know. But be honest as well – straw for the naughty ones!”
Peter snickers again, wags at the children, then turns and throws himself on the bishop, arms around his neck, mewing noisily.
As the bishop nods his head paternally, Peter slyly turns to the children, waves a free arm and giggles.
Then he quickly buries his head in the bishop’s shoulder again.
After this you can have Peter sing a song or two, and the bishop can end the play with a hymn and lead the children in a little prayer or two, asking for the grace to be good and to love little Jesus with all their hearts. Then it is all over.
All go rushing about looking for stockings, full of high hopes for cookies – which, of course, they have spent the afternoon helping to make (or seen Mother buy).
The following morning tells the tale, and it is sometimes a mixture of fun and bittersweet. We have a little friend named Teddy who was unable to bear the suspense; so he bade his sister look in his stocking for him.
When she reported, “Cookies!” he was so amazed (what with the weight of his past sins pressing so hard upon him) that he gasped, “Are you sure?”