Christmas is definitely not complete without the mention and sight of one of its most beloved and Iconic figures. That jolly old man, dressed in red with the big tummy and the happy and loud laughter that can only bring cheer and happiness – Santa Claus!!!
But what do we know about him really? Where did he come from? Is his name really Santa Claus? Let’s get reading and find out all that we probably don’t know about him.
Santa Claus or St. Nicholas?
The true story of Santa Claus begins with a man named Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara, near a place called Myra, in Turkey. Born to wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, they died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Being a kind young man, Nicholas decided to give back to the people around him and used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. It was because of his kindness and concern, Nicholas was made a Saint.
However, in the 3rd century, the then Roman Emperor Diocletian, ruthlessly persecuted Christians. Bishop Nicholas was among those attacked because of his faith. He was subsequently exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers.
After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).
How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus
Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.
One the oldest stories about St. Nicholas is about how the custom of hanging up stockings to put presents in, first started. The story goes like this: There was a man who had three daughters but he was too poor to be able to marry any of them off or even give them each a dowry. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house for the oldest girl. The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry. This was repeated later with the second daughter.
Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.
There are many more stories about how St. Nicholas became Santa Claus but this the one that is most popular.
What is he called all around the world
The United Kingdom – Father Christmas or Old Man Christmas
France – Père Nöel
Brazil – Papai Noel
Italy – Babbo Natale
The Netherlands – Sinter Klaas
The United States of America – Kris Kringle and even Santa Claus as we see him today in his red suit.
Germany – Christkindel (the name Kris Kringle was adapted from here)
Portugal – Pai Natal
So I hope every kid has written their letter to Santa. Don’t forget, he sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. He definitely knows if you’ve been bad or good so I hope you’ve been good, for goodness sake!