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Saint Nicholas Day and the Van Riper Hopper House

Built in 1786 by Uriah Van Riper for his bride Maria (Polly) Berdan, this New Jersey Dutch colonial house offers a rare walk back in time. This weekend the friendly staff will be your guide back to what Christmas or The Feast of St. Nicholas would have been like back in the late 1700's. Our tour included a very informative guided walk through complete with stories, singing and some hands on experiences. The decorations were festive and depicted how the house would have been looked back then. At the end of our tour we were served Dutch cookies and cake along with hot spiced cider. The tour is about 15-20 minutes and starts at the top of the hour after that you are able to look around more on your own. Admission is a very reasonable $4.00
I recommend stopping by if you are in the area.

Saint Nicholas Day:
Many countries in Europe celebrate the Feast of Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, on the eve of December 6. After dinner, families hunt for their presents, following clues in funny, anonymous poems. They also eat candies and cookies, especially spicy crispy ginger-cookie figures formed in a traditional wooden mold. The legend of St. Nicholas is, like the lives of many saints, shrouded in mystery. We know that he was the bishop of Myra in Lycia, part of Asia Minor, during the fourth century. He is credited with saving three sisters from lives of ill repute by throwing bags of gold into their house (some say down the chimney, others say through the window) to provide for their dowries.

After the Reformation, St. Nicholas was largely forgotten in Protestant Europe, although his memory was kept alive in Holland as Sinterklaas. There St. Nicholas is said to arrive on horseback on his feast day, dressed in a bishop’s red robe and mitre and accompanied by Black Peter, variously described as a freed slave or a Moor, to help him distribute presents to good children or lumps of coal, potatoes, or switches to bad ones.
The Dutch took the tradition to New Amsterdam (New York City)
In many places in the United States and abroad, children still hang their stockings by the chimney or place their shoes by the window for St. Nicholas to fill them with presents and sweets on the eve of his feast day. He is considered the patron saint of children.

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