In traditional Christian homes throughout continental Europe and in places where immigrants from the continent settled in the United States, December 6th is celebrated as St. Nick’s Day—often by giving children gifts, much in the way it is now widely common to do at Christmas. Saint Nicholas was bishop of Myra (today known as Demre, Turkey) in the fourth century. He is alleged to have worked so many miracles that he is still known as the patron saint of sailors, merchants, sex workers, children, and brewers to name just a portion of the people he helped while alive.

The stories of Nicholas’s miracles often hinge on saving three people: he rescued three girls from being forced into prostitution by dropping a bag of gold through their window each night for three nights so that they would have dowries and be wed. He is also said to have saved three innocent soldiers from execution, and brought three murdered children back to life and returned them safely to their parents.

“Saint Nicholas Saves Three Innocents from Death” (1888) by Ilya Repin

This selection focuses on cards that have something to do with the story of this beloved saint who would become the inspiration for Santa Claus.  In addition to finding a forest, Three Visits recalls Nicholas’s surreptitious generosity, enabling the daughters of the poor widower to start new lives. Kaheera, the Orphanguard and Mentor of the Meek recall the saint’s concern for the vulnerable.

Cards like Sevinne’s Reclamation and Bishop of Rebirth recall the story of the three children raised from the dead. Banisher Priest and Banishing Stroke evoke stories of Saint Nicholas banishing demons from a cypress tree and a well. Note that in part because of this story and also because Nicholas lived and ministered in what is now Turkey, the lands in this pack depict these very trees, and are not snow lands.

Advent 6: Feast of Saint Nicholas

Creatures (7)
Bishop of Rebirth
Bygone Bishop
Banisher Priest
Mentor of the Meek
Hua Tuo, Honored Physician
Saffi Eriksdotter
Kaheera, the Orphanguard

Artifacts (1)
Mana Cylix

Spells (4)
Three Visits
Sevinne's Reclamation
Once and Future
Banishing Stroke
Lands (8)
Scattered Groves
Temple Gardens

The synergies here, in addition to recalling the story of St. Nicholas of Myra, focus strongly on his preferential treatment of the meek—recurring small creatures and other permanents over and over again to generate impressive card advantage. In addition, if we happen to find ourselves with Hans Eriksson available from picking the “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” pack I wrote about for Day 1, we can double down on flavor in two directions: Santa Claus, and the Eriksbörn!  Even without the flavor win, however, we’ll be happy to find any pack full of cheap creatures that the good bishop deigns to leave in our shoes.

Jacob Torbeck is a researcher and instructor of theology and ethics. He hails from Chicago, IL, and loves playing Commander and pre-modern cubes.

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