By Kenneth J. Souza
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. — While images of the red-and-white bedecked Santa Claus — often referred to as “jolly, old St. Nick” — are omnipresent in the days leading up to Christmas, students enrolled in the Faith Formation program at St. Julie Billiart Parish in North Dartmouth were recently introduced to the more traditional version of “Father Christmas.”
To celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6, Faith Formation co-directors Gene and Kathy Kosinski enlisted Bill Duchemin to portray the famous saint for a program inside the chapel at nearby Bishop Stang High School.
Instead of a bulging, fur-lined costume, however, this St. Nick was dressed in robes more appropriate to a man who served as Bishop of Myra in the fourth century, including a long red cape that likely inspired the contemporary interpretation of Santa Claus.
Kathy Kosinski helped created the costume for Duchemin, while Gene Kosinski explained the origins of “Father Christmas” to the students from a book about the famous saint.
“Nicholas was filled with Jesus’ love, so much so that tales of his kindness and generosity spread throughout the land,” Kosinski explained. “He became known as ‘Father Christmas,’ and to this day people continue to give out gifts at Christmas like Nicholas did as a way to share God’s love and kindness with others.”
In order to demonstrate St. Nicholas’ generosity and penchant for giving gifts to the less fortunate, the Faith Formation students were encouraged to bring in stocking-stuffer items that will be given to families with children in temporary placements, at a parish dinner sponsored by the St. Vincent de Paul Society later in the month.
In exchange for these donations, students were given something that’s more closely associated with St. Nick’s “ho-ho-hoing” alter ego — a red-and-white striped candy cane.