Did you ever wonder why pawnbrokers have three golden balls as their symbol? It is because St. Nicholas is their patron saint, and the three golden balls remind all people of the three poor girls, who could not get married as they had no dowries.
This story is also why we give chocolate coins covered in gold foil to each other on this day.
Here is the story. A man, who was a widower, had three daughters of marrying age. But, in those days, a young woman could not get married without a dowry. In fact, the father was worried the girls would have to be sold into slavery in order to eat and live. St. Nicholas heard of the plight of this man and his girls, so one night, he threw a bag of gold through the window of the small house for the oldest girl. The next morning, they found the bag of gold coins. Immediately, the oldest girl danced about the room, singing praises to God. After she hugged her sisters and father, the father went to the intended man with the dowry and plans were made for the wedding.
That night, St. Nicholas threw another bag of gold through the window for the second daughter's dowry. When the household awoke, the second girl picked up the bag and sank to her knees. Now, she could marry the young man of her choice, a man who had been secretly praying for a dowry for her. Remember, fathers would not consent to their sons getting married without the dowries.
Can you imagine the anxiety of the third girl, who was wondering whether she would get a bag of gold for her dowry? This child wanted to know from where the money came, so at midnight, when St. Nicholas threw the third bag of gold through the open window, the youngest daughter got up quietly and looked out the door. She saw St. Nicholas rushing through the small alleyway which led away from their house. Now, she knew. She woke up her father and sisters, showed them the money, and they all knelt down and thanked God for St. Nicholas' goodness and generosity.
Needless to say, the father went to St. Nicholas to thank him, but St. Nicholas kept his eyes on the floor and said nothing.
However, I like to think that the girls had a triple wedding, which the town talked about for years and years.
Such is yet one more story for this happy feast day of St. Nicholas. I use to read this story to my son before he could read it himself. God bless all homeschooling mums today, and God bless all women who are overlooked for marriage because they are poor. Yes, this happens. May St. Nicholas provide for all of you today.
More thoughts on the day may be found here...