- 1 Saint Nicholas
- 2 Who Was Saint Nicholas?
- 3 Early Life
- 4 Reputation
- 5 Death and Legacy
- 6 Fact Check
- 7 Who is St. Nicholas?
- 8 Who was the real St. Nicholas?
- 9 Saint Nicholas
- 10 Santa Claus
- 11 The Legend of St. Nicholas: The Real Santa Claus
- 12 Sinter Klaas Comes to New York
- 13 ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
- 14 Santa Claus Around the World
- 15 Christmas Traditions in the United States
- 16 The Ninth Reindeer, Rudolph
- 17 The History of How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus
- 18 Jolly Old St. Nicholas?
- 19 From bishop to gift giver
- 20 Coming to America
- 21 The Santa problem
- 22 The Real Saint Nicholas
- 23 Who Is the Real Saint Nick (St. Nicholas)?
- 24 The Real Saint Nicholas
- 25 Add new comment
It is believed that Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop who cared for the impoverished and ill, and he served as inspiration for the iconic figure of Santa Claus.
Who Was Saint Nicholas?
Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop who devoted his life to assisting the poor. Following his death, the tale of his gift-giving spread even farther. Saint Nicholas was converted into the renowned persona known as Santa Claus, who is responsible for delivering Christmas gifts to children all over the world.
Saint Nicholas was born about the year 280 in Patara, Lycia, which is now a part of the modern-day Turkish Republic. The young man lost both of his parents when he was a small boy. He apparently utilized his fortune to assist the destitute and sick. He was a pious Christian who ultimately rose to the position of bishop of Myra, which is today known as Demre.
Saint Nicholas of Myra is the subject of several stories and folklore. One narrative talks of him assisting three impoverished sisters. Their father did not have enough money to pay their dowries and contemplated selling them into slavery in order to supplement his income. A total of three times, Saint Nicholas made a surprise visit to their home at night and left a bag of money at the door. The money was used by the guy to arrange for one of his daughters to marry. The guy saw Saint Nicholas on his third visit and expressed his gratitude to him for his generosity.
Death and Legacy
Saint Nicholas is supposed to have died on December 6, 343 according to a number of different accounts. His miracles and charitable work for the poor expanded throughout the world as word of his miracles and charitable work for the destitute spread. He gained notoriety as a defender of children and seafarers, and he was also linked with the distribution of gifts. At least until the Reformation in the 1500s, he was a popular saint throughout Europe. The Reformation was a theological movement that resulted in the foundation of Protestantism, which rejected the practice of honoring religious figures such as saints.
- The Dutch continued to commemorate the feast of Saint Nicholas, which took place on December 6.
- They would find the presents that Saint Nicholas had left for them when they woke up the next morning.
- While in America, Saint Nicholas underwent several transformations: Sinterklaas became Santa Claus, and instead of presenting presents on December 6, he became an integral part of the Christmas season.
- Santa Claus, as seen in an 1881 painting by cartoonist Thomas Nast, contributed to the tradition of Saint Nicholas by donning a red outfit with white fur trim.
- In 2017, a team from the University of Oxford radiocarbon tested a piece of a pelvic bone that was thought to have belonged to Saint Nicholas.
- The results of the test indicated that the bone fragment, which belonged to an American priest, belonged to the saint’s time period.
When the bone was identified, archaeologists wanted to compare it to other bones that had been attributed to Saint Nicholas, including those that had been held in a crypt at Bari, Italy, since the 11th century.
We aim for accuracy and fairness in all we do. If you see something that doesn’t appear to be quite right, please let us know!
Who is St. Nicholas?
The actual narrative of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born in the third century in the hamlet of Patara in Asia Minor, and lived until his death in the fourth century. The location was Greek at the time, and it is currently located on the southern coast of Turkey. Nicholas’s rich parents, who had taught him to be a devoted Christian, perished in an epidemic when he was still a child, leaving him to raise alone. Nicholas followed Jesus’ command to “sell what you have and give the money to the poor,” and he utilized his whole inheritance to help the poor, the ill, and those who were in need of assistance.
- Bishop Nicholas was well-known across the country for his kindness to people in need, his fondness for children, and his care for sailors and ships, among other things.
- The jails were so overcrowded with bishops, priests, and deacons that there was no place for the true criminals—murderers, thieves, and robbers—to be held.
- He died on December 6, AD 343 in Myra, and was buried in his cathedral church, where a rare relic known as manna developed in his tomb, which is now preserved at the museum.
- The anniversary of his death has been commemorated as St.
- The life and activities of St.
- These narratives assist us in comprehending his exceptional nature and the reasons why he is so cherished and regarded as a defender and helper of those who are in need.
- In ancient days, a young woman’s parent had to provide something of value to potential spouses in the form of a dowry.
A lady was unlikely to marry if she did not have a dowry.
On three separate times, a mysteriously appearing bag of gold came at their home, supplying them with the dowries they need.
This resulted in the tradition of youngsters hanging stockings or laying shoes outside their doors in anticipation of gifts from Saint Nicholas.
As a result, three gold balls, which are frequently shown as oranges, are one of the emblems associated with St.
As a result, St.
One of the first traditions that depicts St.
On the eve of the holy saint’s feast day, the people of Myra were busy commemorating the saint when a gang of Arab pirates from Crete sailed into the area, causing chaos.
As they were about to leave town, they kidnapped a little boy named Basilios and sold him as a slave.
The next year, Basilios served the monarch by giving him wine in an ornate golden cup, which the king appreciated.
As the next St.
She was convinced, though, to have a small observance at home, complete with silent prayers for Basilios’s well-being and safety.
In front of the scared kid, St.
Imagine the delight and amazement on his parents’ faces as Basilios miraculously reappeared in front of them, still carrying the king’s golden cup.
Nicholas safeguarding children, which has since become his principal duty in the Western world.
A vengeful innkeeper stole and killed them, then concealed their bodies in a huge pickling tub for safekeeping.
In the middle of the night, he had a dream about the crime and woke up, calling the innkeeper.
French children’s literature tells the story of three tiny children who wandered away from their play until they became lost, seduced, and caught by a wicked butcher.
Nicholas arrives and implores God to bring them back to life and reunite them with their family.
Nicholas is known as the patron saint of children and their defender.
When he was younger, Nicholas went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in order to seek the divine guidance.
When the ship was returning by sea, a powerful storm threatened to sink it.
It took the sailors by surprise when the wind and seas suddenly calmed, saving them all from certain drowning.
Nicholas is known as the patron saint of sailors and voyagers.
He performed several acts of kindness and generosity in secret, with no expectation of receiving anything in return.
As a result, he is revered in the East as a wonder worker, and in the West as the patron of a wide range of people, including children and sailors as well as bankers and pawnbrokers as well as scholars and orphans, laborers, travelers, merchants, judges and paupers as well as marriageable maidens and students as well as sailors and victims of judicial errors as well as captives, perfumers, and even thieves and murderers!
- He is well-known as a friend and protector to those who are in difficulty or in need (see list).
- Nicholas as their patron, traveled the world spreading legends of his favor and protection.
- Nicholas chapels were constructed at a number of seaports.
- As a result of his baptism, Grand Prince Vladimir I carried the tales of Saint Nicholas and the devotion to Saint Nicholas to his motherland, where Nicholas quickly rose to the position of most cherished saint.
- Nicholas’ grave in Myra became a renowned pilgrimage destination as a result of his death.
- The Italian towns of Venice and Bari competed for the relics of St.
- Sailing from Bari, a seaport on the southeast coast of Italy, in the spring of 1087, seamen were successful in removing the bones and transporting them to the city of Bari.
Nicholas’ crypt, an impressive church was built, and many faithful pilgrims made the journey to pay their respects to the saint, who had rescued countless people, including children, prisoners, sailors, famine victims and many others, through his compassion, generosity, and the countless miracles attributed to his intercession.
- Throughout the years, Catholics and Orthodox have continued to respect and honor St.
- The legends of St.
- Boys costumed as bishops collected donations for the destitute in Germany and Poland—and occasionally for themselves, too!
- Nicholas came in the Netherlands and Belgium on a steamer from Spain, where he rode a white horse on his gift-giving rounds.
- Saint Nicholas is commemorated on the 5th of December, on the eve of the day before, by exchanging sweets (which are tossed through the door), chocolate initial letters, little presents, and riddles.
- Nicholas’ horse, expecting that the saint will exchange the items for little gifts.
- Who is St.
- an analysis of the language on this page produced a word cloud To see a bigger version of this photograph, please click here.
Wordle.net was used to make this image. Henri Gheon’s Saint Nicholas, published by Sheed & Ward in 1936, with illustrations by Elisabeth Ivanovsky. Copyright courtesy of Elisabeth Ivanovsky, with gracious permission to use for the exclusive benefit of St. Nicholas Center. return to the beginning
Who was the real St. Nicholas?
- The Christmas season is celebrated throughout the year, and we are constantly inundated with visuals and music that reflect this. In one of those photographs, there is an obese man with a long white beard who is clothed in a crimson suit with a fur-trimmed collar and a rotund face. We refer to him as “Santa Claus.” However, much of the mythology of today’s Santa Claus is based on the life and compassion of a genuine man who lived many years ago and was known as Santa Claus. In what is now the country of Turkey, he was known as Nicholas, and he served as the Bishop of Myra throughout his time there. Nicholas was born in the village of Patara, in what was then known as Asia Minor, in the third century A.D., and grew up there. During the reign of Nicholas, the area was mostly Greek. Currently, the location is located on the Turkish coastline’s southernmost tip. Nicholas grew up as the son of well-to-do parents. They instilled in him the values of a fervent Christian upbringing. Nicholas’s parents perished in an epidemic when he was still a child, leaving him an orphaned child. Upon the loss of his parents, Nicholas recalled Jesus’ instructions to the rich young ruler, in which he urged him to sell everything he has and give the proceeds to the needy. Despite the fact that the wealthy young ruler had turned away from Christ, Nicholas devoted his whole estate to help the poor, ill, and afflicted. He made it his life’s mission to serve God. He was named Bishop of Myra while he was a young man. Bishop Nicholas became well-known across the region for his kindness to people in need, his fondness for children, and his care for sailors and ships, among other qualities. The persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Diocletian was particularly harsh, and Bishop Nicholas was tormented for his religion. He was banished and imprisoned as a result of his actions. Diocletian’s jails were so overcrowded with bishops, priests, and deacons that there was no place for murderers, thieves, or robbers to take up residence. Following his release, Nicholas was invited to participate in the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. That council defined the orthodox Christian doctrines of Christ’s divinity and the trinitarian character of God, which had previously been ambiguous. The Creed of Nicaea is still in use in churches today, and it dates back to the fourth century. Nicholas died at Myra on December 6, 343 A.D., on the 6th of December. He was laid to rest in the church where he had been a long-time volunteer. The anniversary of his death became a day of remembrance for his family and friends. The figure of Nicholas has been the subject of several myths and legends throughout history. A destitute dad with three daughters is at the center of one of the most believable Nicholas stories out there. The parent of an engaged lady was required to present potential spouses something of value, such as a dowry, in order to persuade the man to marry his daughter. The more the dowry, the greater the likelihood that the young woman will find a suitable marriage. A lady was unlikely to marry if she did not have a dowry. The daughters of this impoverished family had no dowries, so when their father passed away, they were doomed to be sold into slavery. On three separate times, a bag of gold appeared in the house, containing enough money to supply each of the girls with the dowries that she required. As told in the legend, the golden bags of riches were thrown through an open window and fell in stockings or shoes that had been placed by the fire to dry. This aspect of the narrative inspired the tradition of youngsters hanging stockings or placing shoes outside their doors in anticipation of receiving presents from Saint Nicholas. Another set of legends tells about Nicholas saving people from starvation, preserving the lives of those who were wrongfully condemned, and performing a slew of other generous and compassionate gestures in secret. He had no expectations of receiving anything in return. The commemoration of St. Nicholas’ feast day, which took place on December 6th, helped to keep the legends of his giving and goodwill alive. Boys dressed as bishops and solicited for money for the impoverished in Germany and Poland were commonplace. St. Nicholas came in the Netherlands and Belgium on a steamer from Spain, where he rode a white horse on his gift-giving rounds. In much of Europe, the 6th of December is still the most important day for gift-giving and holiday festivities. I hope that every time you see a picture of Santa Claus, your thoughts will be drawn to a genuinely decent guy who believed in Christ and committed his life to helping his Lord and those less fortunate. And perhaps in doing so, we will be able to begin to remove ourselves from the ravenous materialism that has come to characterize so much of what passes for “Christmas” today. I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. A columnist for The Free Press, Mike Parker writes on politics and pop culture. You may reach him through email at [email protected] or by writing to the editor of this publication.
From c.301 to c.400, the civilization flourished. Myra Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Saint Nicholas?
Known variously as Nicholas of Myra and Nikolas of Bari, (flourished 4th century in Myra, Lycia, Asia Minor; Western feast day December 6; Eastern feast day December 19), St. Nicholas is one of the most popular minor saints commemorated in both the Eastern and Western churches, and is traditionally associated with the festival of Christmas. On the 6th of December, known as St. Nicholas Day, children in many nations receive gifts. He is considered to be one of the patron saints of children and sailors.
- Historically, he was born at the ancient Lycian seaside city of Patara and journeyed to Palestine and Egypt as a child, according to legend.
- He was imprisoned and most likely tortured during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian, but he was liberated under the administration ofConstantine the Great after a long period of imprisonment.
- After his death, his remains were interred in his church at Myra, where his shrine had become widely renowned by the sixth century.
- This move dramatically raised the saint’s fame across Europe, and Bari quickly became one of the most busy pilgrimage destinations on the continent.
- The dating of one such relic fragment, a bit of hip bone from a church in the United States, was validated in 2017 by scholars, who determined that it belonged to the 4th century.
- Nicholas, bishop of Myra, and the gift-giving Santa Claus of the holiday season.
- Nicholas, bishop of Myra, and his life and times.
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Nicholas’s reputation for generosity and charity gave birth to traditions of miracles that he performed for the impoverished and destitute, which he shared with his followers.
During the Middle Ages, Nicholas was revered across Europe, and his devotion was widespread.
The emperor Justinian I of Rome erected a church to him in Constantinople (now Istanbul) as early as the 6th century, one of thousands of churches dedicated to him throughout Europe.
Photographs courtesy of PHOTOS.com/Getty Images Plus After the Reformation, devotion to Nicholas faded away in all Protestant nations of Europe, with the exception of Holland, where his legend endures under the name Sinterklaas (St.
As a result of the country’s English-speaking majority adopting the moniker Santa Claus, Sinterklaas’s legendary narrative of a kind elderly man was combined with old Nordic folktales of a magician who punished misbehaving children and rewarded good children with gifts.
He has been the patron saint of the gift-giving celebration of Christmas ever since.
In the United Kingdom, Santa Claus is referred to as Father Christmas instead of Santa Claus. Those in charge of editing the Encyclopaedia Britannica Melissa Petruzzello was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.
Known variously as Nicholas of Myra or Nikolas of Bari, (flourished 4th century in Myra, Lycia, Asia Minor; Western feast day December 6; Eastern feast day December 19), St. Nicholas is one of the most popular minor saints commemorated in both the Eastern and Western churches, and is traditionally associated with the festival of Christmas. On the 6th of December, known as St. Nicholas Day, children in various nations are given presents. In addition to children and sailors, he is a patron saint of the sailor community.
- Historically, he was born at the ancient Lycian seaside city of Patara and journeyed to Palestine and Egypt as a child, according to the legend.
- During the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian, he was imprisoned and presumably tortured, but he was liberated under the administration ofConstantine the Great.
- After his death, his remains were interred in his church at Myra, where his shrine had become widely renowned by the sixth century.
- This move dramatically expanded the saint’s fame across Europe, and Bari quickly became one of the most busy pilgrimage destinations on the continent.
- The dating of one such relic fragment, a bit of hip bone from a church in the United States, was validated in 2017 by experts, who determined that it belonged to the fourth century.
- Nicholas, bishop of Myra, and the gift-giving Santa Claus of the holiday season.
- Nicholas, bishop of Myra, who lived in the ancient world.
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As a result of Nicholas’s reputation for generosity and kindness, stories of miracles that he did for the poor and unfortunate have grown up around him.
Devotion to Saint Nicholas spread throughout Europe throughout the Middle Ages.
The emperor Justinian I of Rome erected a church to him in Constantinople (now Istanbul), which was the first of thousands of churches dedicated to him throughout Europe.
Saving Myra from Famine is a detail from one of the panels.
As a result of the country’s English-speaking majority adopting the moniker Santa Claus, Sinterklaas’s legendary narrative of a kind elderly man was combined with old Nordic folktales of a magician who punished misbehaving children while rewarding good children with gifts.
He has been the patron saint of the gift-giving celebration of Christmas ever since.
Santa Claus is referred to as Father Christmas in the United Kingdom. In the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the editors write about: Melissa Petruzzello has made the most recent revisions and additions to this page.
The Legend of St. Nicholas: The Real Santa Claus
It is possible to trace the origins of Santa Claus back hundreds of years to a monk by the name ofSt. Nicholas. A.D. 280 at Patara, near Myra, which is now part of Turkey. It is thought that Nicholas was born there somewhere about this period. St. Nicholas, who was widely loved for his devotion and charity, became the focus of several stories. Some claim that he spent his whole inheritance on charitable endeavors, including visiting needy and ailing people on his travels around the country. St.
- Nicholas’s popularity grew throughout time, and he came to be renowned as a defender of children and mariners around the world.
- Making major purchases or getting married on this day was traditionally regarded to be a positive omen.
- Nicholas had risen to the top of the religious hierarchy in Europe.
- Nicholas’ reputation remained favorable, particularly in the Netherlands, even after the Protestant Reformation.
- Nicholas and What Was His Mission?
Sinter Klaas Comes to New York
Towards the close of the 18th century, St. Nicholas made his first forays into popular culture in the United States of America. An article in a New York newspaper indicated that groups of Dutch families had congregated to commemorate the anniversary of his death in December 1773 and again in December 1774. In Dutch, Nick was known by the moniker Sinter Klaas, which is a shortened version of the name Sint Nikolaas. The term Santa Claus sprang from this nickname (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In 1804, during the annual meeting of the New York Historical Society, John Pintard, a member of the society, handed woodcuts of St.
- Stockings packed with gifts and fruit draped above a fireplace decorate the backdrop of the etching, which is now widely recognized as belonging to Santa Claus.
- Nicholas as the patron saint of the city of New York.
- Since the holiday’s resurgence in the early nineteenth century, gift-giving has played a prominent role in the celebration, with the majority of gifts being directed toward children.
- Stores began advertising Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1850s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements.
- It was only a matter of time before retailers began luring youngsters and their parents into their stores with the promise of a glimpse of a “real” Santa Claus.
- They began by dressing up jobless guys in Santa Claus outfits and dispatching them onto the streets of New York to seek money from passing motorists.
- Watch this video to see what shopping was like in the 1950s.
- During the film’s production, a young Natalie Wood played a small child who believes Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance) when he claims to be the actual Santa Claus.
Since its inception in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has featured almost every Macy’s Santa, and fans of all ages continue to queue up to meet him in New York City and at Macy’s stores across the country, where they can pose for photos on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas.
PUBLICATIONS: Vintage Photographs from The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade SEE MORE:
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Towards the close of the 18th century, St. Nicholas began to make inroads into popular culture in the United States. An article in a New York newspaper said that groups of Dutch families had congregated to commemorate the anniversary of his death in December 1773, and again in 1774, according to the publication. In Dutch, Nick was known by the moniker Sinter Klaas, which is a shortened variant of the name Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). At the annual meeting of the New York Historical Society in 1804, John Pintard, a member of the society, presented woodcuts of St.
- Stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace decorate the background of the engraving, which is now well-known to Santa fans.
- Nicholas as the patron saint of New York City in his book, The History of New York, published in 1809, Washington Irving assisted in spreading the Sinter Klaas legend.
- Since the holiday’s resurgence in the early nineteenth century, gift-giving has played a prominent role in the celebration, with a particular emphasis on children.
- Stores began advertising Christmas shopping around 1820, and by the 1850s, newspapers were creating special sections for holiday commercials.
- It was only a matter of time before retailers began luring youngsters and their parents into their establishments with the promise of a glimpse of a “live” Santa Claus in person.
- In order to seek money, they began dressing up jobless guys in Santa Claus outfits and dispatching them into the streets of New York.
- Flashback to the 1950s: Shopping in a shopping mall The 1947 classic Santa Claus film “Miracle on 34th Street” features Kris Kringle, who is perhaps the most renowned department store Santa.
Lord Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson appeared in the 1994 remake of “Miracle on 34th Street.” Since its inception in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has featured almost every Macy’s Santa, and fans of all ages continue to queue up to meet him in New York City and at Macy’s stores across the country, where they can pose for photos on Santa’s lap and share their Christmas wishes with him.
MORE: Vintage Photographs of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (VIDEO)
Santa Claus Around the World
Santa Claus, as he was known in eighteenth-century America, was not the only gift-giver who drew inspiration from St. Nicholas to come at Christmastime. Identical figurines and Christmas customs can be seen in other parts of the world. Christkind, also known as Kris Kringle, was believed to provide gifts to well-behaved youngsters in Switzerland and Germany. Christkind, which literally translates as “Christ kid,” is an angel-like figure that frequently travels with St. Nicholas on his Christmas trips.
Father Christmas is said to visit each home on Christmas Eve to fill the stockings of the children with festive sweets, according to English legends.
Throughout Italy, there is a legend about a woman known as La Befana.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Meet Krampus, the Christmas Devil who punishes children who have been misbehaving.
Christmas Traditions in the United States
In the United States, Santa Claus is frequently shown as flying from his home to his home on Christmas Eve, delivering presents to the youngsters in his care. He is accompanied by his magical sleigh and reindeer, who include Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph, who is the most well-known of them all. Santa enters each home through the chimney, which is why empty Christmas stockings—once empty socks, but now often dedicated stockings made specifically for the occasion—are “hung by the Chimney with care, in hopes that St.
- Santa enters each home through the chimney, which is why empty Christmas stockings—once empty socks, but now often dedicated stockings made specifically for the occasion—are “hung by the Chimney with Stockings can be stuffed with candy canes, other sweets, or miniature toys for the holidays.
- Claus, as youngsters write letters to Santa Claus and watch Santa’s movement around the world as he travels around the world.
- Santa Claus maintains a “naughty list” and a “good list” to select who should get gifts on Christmas morning, and parents frequently refer to these lists as a means of ensuring that their children are acting in the best interests of the family.
- Santa Claus is on his way to town.
He can see you even when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake and when you’re asleep. He can tell if you’ve been terrible or good, so do your best to be good for goodness sake! MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: It Was During World War II That Santa Claus Was Deployed
The Ninth Reindeer, Rudolph
It took more than a century for Rudolph, the “most renowned reindeer of them all,” to be born, more than 100 years after his eight flying colleagues. Robert L. May, a copywriter for the Montgomery Ward department store, was the brains behind the invention of the red-nosed marvel. In 1939, May created a story-poem about Christmas to help get customers into his business during the holiday season. May presented the narrative of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was harassed by the other deer because of his enormous, bright red nose, in a rhyme pattern similar to Moore’s “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” in which he was teased by the other deer because of his large, shining red nose.
Rudolph’s message, which said that if given the opportunity, a liability may be transformed into an asset, was well received.
After being reprinted in 1946, the book went on to sell more than three and a half million copies worldwide.
Gene Autry recorded the song, which went on to sell more than two million copies.
The History of How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus
Over a century after the birth of his eight flying contemporaries, Rudolph, dubbed “the most renowned reindeer of them all,” was born. Robert L. May, a copywriter for the Montgomery Ward department store, came up with the idea for the red-nosed wonder. For the Christmas season in 1939, May composed a story-poem to help get customers into his business during the busy holiday season. May narrated the narrative of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was mocked by the other deer because of his enormous, shining red nose, in a rhyme pattern similar to Moore’s “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” in which the other deer teased him.
That a burden may be transformed into an asset was an important message for Rudolph, and it resonated with many people.
A revised edition of the book was published in 1946, and it went on to sell more than three and a half million copies.
There have been nearly two million copies sold of the recording by Gene Autry. It has been translated into 25 languages since then, and a television movie with Burl Ives as the narration has been broadcast every year since 1964 to delighted audiences across the world.
Jolly Old St. Nicholas?
Every year on December 6, the faithful gather in towns all over the world to commemorate St. Nicholas Day, with the major celebrations taking place in Europe. While there are many different depictions of St. Nicholas, none of them look anything like the red-cheeked, white-bearded elderly guy who may be found everywhere today. Modern forensic face reconstruction techniques were used to produce one of the most striking depictions of the genuine St. Nick, who lived in the third and fourth centuries and lived in the third and fourth centuries.
- Nicholas’s remains continues to this day, but it has long been believed that the bones of the Greek bishop were stolen by Italian sailors during the 11th century and transported to the crypt of the Basilica di San Nicola on the Italian coast’s southeast coast.
- ” Could the Remains of Santa Claus Be in This Turkish Church?” (For speculations on other probable resting sites for St.
- Wilkinson gave Santa’s original namesake a human face, one with a terribly damaged nose, which may have occurred during the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, according to historical accounts.
- Two-dimensional data was used to reconstruct the size and shape of the facial muscles that originally covered Nicholas’s skull, and three-dimensional data from two-dimensional data was used to reconstruct the shape of Nicholas’s skull itself.
When working from photographs, Wilkinson admits that “we are bound to have lost some of the level of detail you would get from working from life,” but he believes that “this is the closest we are ever going to get to him.” The project’s feature film, The Real Face of Santa, which aired on BBC Two, was a documentary about the project.
From bishop to gift giver
How did this St. Nicholas become the bringer of Christmas presents from the North Pole, where he now resides? The first saint was a Greek who lived in the late third century, approximately 280 A.D., and was martyred. He was elevated to the position of bishop of Myra, a tiny Roman town in modern Turkey. However, during the Great Persecution in 303, when Bibles were burned and priests were forced to renounce their Christian beliefs or face execution, Nicholas gained a reputation as a fiery, wiry and defiant defender of church doctrine.
- Nicholas’s fame lasted for a long time after his death (which occurred on December 6 in the mid-fourth century, around 343) because he was associated with numerous miracles, and veneration for him continues to this day, regardless of whether or not it is associated with Christmas.
- Nicholas rose to prominence among the saints as a result of his role as patron saint of a large number of organizations.
- During the more well-known version of the story, three young girls are saved from a life of prostitution when young Bishop Nicholas delivers three bags of gold to their indebted father, which can be used to pay for their dowries.
- Nicholas walked into an inn whose keeper had just murdered three boys and pickled their dismembered bodies in basement barrels.
- Not only did the bishop detect the crime, but he also brought the victims back to life.
- Nicholas was the undisputed bringer of gifts and the toast of celebrations centered around his feast day, December 6, and he was never challenged.
- He also made certain that the children stayed on the right side of the law by encouraging them to pray and demonstrate good behavior.
- “That was a problem,” Bowler acknowledged.
- Bowler stated that, in many cases, that responsibility fell on the shoulders of baby Jesus, and the date was changed from December 6 to Christmas.
Consequently, the Christ child was frequently accompanied by a frightening helper to assist him in the lugging of gifts and intimidating of children, which did not seem appropriate coming from the baby Jesus.” Some of these frightening Germanic figures were based on Nicholas once more, this time as a threatening sidekick rather than as a saint, as Ru-klaus (Rough Nicholas), Aschenklas (Ashy Nicholas), and Pelznickel (Pelznickel) were (Furry Nicholas).
This group of figures either expected children to behave well or subjected them to punishments such as whippings or kidnappings.
Despite their apparent dissimilarity to the jolly man in red, these vibrant characters would later play an important role in the development of Santa himself. (This is related to: “What Is the Meaning of Krampus? The Horrific Christmas Devil is explained in detail “) ) ) ) ) ) ) )
Coming to America
In the Netherlands, children and families just refused to give up the tradition of St. Nicholas bringing gifts. They transported Sinterklaas with them to the New World colonies, where the traditions of the hairy and fearsome Germanic gift bringers persisted as well. However, Christmas in early America was very different from the present celebration in many ways. In New England, the event was avoided, and in other parts of the country, it had taken on the appearance of the pagan Saturnalia that had formerly held the same spot on the calendar.
- Nicholas.Washington Irving’s 1809 bookKnickerbocker’s History of New Yorkfirst depicted a pipe-smoking Nicholas soaring above the rooftops in a flying wagon, delivering gifts to good girs.
- And there was no particular, With this apparition, “Santa Claus” has made his public debut, according to Bowler.
- “They’ve taken the magical gift-bringing of St.
- “It went global,” Bowler explains.
It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century, according to Bowler, that the image of Santa became standardized as a full-size adult dressed in red with white fur trim and venturing out from the North Pole in a reindeer-drawn sleigh while keeping an eye on children’s behavior.The jolly, chubby, grandfatherly face of this Santa was largely created by Thomas Nast, the great political cartoonist of the time.
“However, Nast did leave him half-sized,” Bowler continued, “and in what I believe to be rather indecent long johns.”Once firmly established in North America, Santa then underwent a kind of reverse migration to Europe, replacing the scary gift bringers and adopting local names such as Père Nol (France) or Father Christmas (England).Once firmly established in North America, Santa then underwent a kind of reverse migration to Europe, replacing the scary gift bring (Great Britain).
According to Bowler, “He’s done an excellent job of taming these characters from the late medieval period that were like something out of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale.”
The Santa problem
Despite the fact that he obviously has the best of intentions, Santa has certainly sparked, and continues to spark, more than his fair share of controversy. In Russia, Santa Claus came into conflict with Joseph Stalin. Before the Russian Revolution, Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz) was a popular Christmas figure who had taken on aspects of proto-Santas such as the Dutch Sinterklaas and adapted them to the Russian context. “When the Soviet Union was established, the communists prohibited the celebration of Christmas as well as the practice of gift giving,” Bowler explained.
Christmas was not replaced in Russia, and Soviet attempts to promote a secular version of Grandfather Frost, replete with a blue coat to avoid confusion with Santa, throughout Europe were eventually unsuccessful.
In the years immediately following World War II, American forces took their version of the cheerful guy across the world, and he was widely welcomed, according to Bowler, as a symbol of American generosity in reconstructing war-torn regions.
Santa is sometimes turned away because he is not a native speaker of the language.” Anti-Santa movements are quite strong in countries such as the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Austria, and Latin America, all of which are attempting to retain their original Christmas gift givers and rituals while protecting them from the North American Santa “he explained.
The information in this story has been updated.
The Real Saint Nicholas
Photograph courtesy of oriontrail/Shutterstock Sign up for Christianity Today and you’ll gain instant access to back issues of Christian History! Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6, and I thought I’d kick off the Christmas season by sharing the story of the man who inspired Santa Claus’s eponymous character. First and first, I should point out that we don’t know much about Nicholas in terms of his historical background. Despite the fact that he is one of the most venerated saints in both the Greek and Latin faiths, there is no historical evidence to support his existence.
- Having said that, there are several stories surrounding Nicholas, and because they have impacted people throughout history and are likely to indicate something about the real man, they are appropriate for a magazine devoted to Christian history, such as ours.
- When his parents died, he received a substantial quantity of money, but he spent all of it before returning it to his parents.
- As far as we can tell, this is the most popular version of the narrative; there are others, including one that is overly bleak, in which the three girls are decapitated by an innkeeper and preserved in a tub of brine until Nicholas reawakens them.
- After that, Diocletian and Maximian began their persecution of Christians, and the new bishop was imprisoned.
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Who Is the Real Saint Nick (St. Nicholas)?
When it comes to the real-life Nicholas (270-346 AD), who was born during the third century in the village of Patara, we can trace our lineage back to the beginning of the legend. It was in Greece at the time, but it is currently on the southern coast of Turkey, where it was originally. Epiphanus and Johanna, his rich parents who taught him to be a devoted Christian, perished in an epidemic when he was still very young, and Nicholas was left to raise himself. His Christian Uncle (who was also named Nicholas) reared him and prepared him for the ministry he is about to begin.
In his early twenties, he committed his life to the service of God, and he was appointed Bishop of Myra while still a teenager. Because of his kindness to people in need, his affection for children, and his care for seafarers, Bishop Nicholas became well-known across the country. Bishop Nicholas struggled for his beliefs under the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was viciously persecuting Christians. He was deported and imprisoned as a result of his actions. Following his release, Nicholas was invited to participate in the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.
The anniversary of his death was commemorated as St.
The life and activities of St.
These narratives assist us in comprehending his exceptional nature and the reasons why he is so cherished and regarded as a defender and helper of those who are in need.
A poor guy with three daughters is the subject of one narrative. In ancient days, a young woman’s parent had to provide something of value to potential spouses in the form of a dowry. The higher the dowry, the more likely it is that a young lady will find a suitable spouse in the future. A lady was unlikely to marry if she did not have a dowry. Because these impoverished man’s daughters lacked dowries, they were condemned to be sold into slavery. On three separate times, a mysteriously appearing bag of gold came at their home, supplying them with the dowries they need.
This resulted in the tradition of youngsters hanging stockings or placing shoes outside their doors in anticipation of gifts from Saint Nicholas, the gift-giver.
As a result, three gold balls, which are frequently shown as oranges, are one of the emblems associated with St.
Protector of Children
It is until after St. Nicholas’ death that one of the earliest myths depicting him as a guardian of children is told. On the eve of the holy saint’s feast day, the people of Myra were busy commemorating the saint when a gang of Arab pirates from Crete sailed into the area, causing chaos. They robbed the Church of Saint Nicholas of its valuables in order to carry them away as loot. As they were about to leave town, they kidnapped a little boy named Basilios and sold him as a slave. Basilios was chosen by the emir, or king, to serve as his personal cupbearer.
- In the eyes of Basilios’ parents, who were saddened by the death of their only child, the year passed slowly and was filled with anguish.
- Nicholas’ feast day arrived, Basilios’ mother decided that she would not participate in the festivities because it was a day of sadness for her son.
- Meanwhile, when Basilios was carrying out his duties as an emir’s servant, he was abruptly swept away by a mysterious force.
- Nicholas who blessed him before returning the boy to his home in Myra.
Basilios miraculously reappeared in front of his parents, still clutching the king’s golden cup in his hands. This is the very first narrative that has been recorded about St. Nicholas safeguarding children, which has since become his principal duty in the Western world.
St. Nicholas, through his example of charity to people in need, particularly children, has continued to serve as a model for living a compassionate life. The legends of St. Nicholas’ benevolence and charity were kept alive on his feast day, December 6, which was widely observed across Europe. Boys costumed as bishops collected money for the impoverished in Germany and Poland, and occasionally for themselves as well as for the destitute. St. Nicholas came in the Netherlands and Belgium on a steamer from Spain, where he rode a white horse on his gift-giving rounds.
Saint Nicholas Day is observed on December 5, the eve of the holiday, by exchanging candy (which are tossed through the door), chocolate initial letters, little presents, and riddles with one another.
Nicholas’ horse, expecting that the saint will exchange the items for little gifts.
The Real Saint Nicholas
For many Christians, Saint Nicholas, the forerunner of Santa Claus, is no longer a historical figure to be admired. He is especially revered by Eastern Catholics and Orthodox, and he continues to intercede on their behalf even now, as one of the most popular saints. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children, travelers, individuals looking for wives, and a variety of other causes as a result of his remarkable life and the witness of miraculous events. The day of his feast is December 6. St.
Father Palis, pastor of the Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Parish in New York City, translates the lives of saints from Greek to English for the congregation.
He is truly a Saint.
This potentially unpleasant inquiry regarding the historical foundation of Nicholas the Archangel is generously answered by Father Palis: “You’ve got his relics that produce myrrh in Bari, Italy, and other sections of his relics in other areas of the world!
He was born in the year 280 and established his see on the Mediterranean shore, in the same region where Saint Paul had originally preached the gospel a few hundred years before.
He was such a committed and saintly bishop that, much like Mother Teresa today, he was soon recognized as a saint by the general public and clergy.
Emperor Constantine, who had released Christians, including Nicholas, from imprisonment and torture during the Diocletian persecution, commissioned the construction of a cathedral to hold these venerated relics.
Recently, the Holy See granted approval for the restoration of some relics of Saint Nicholas to the Greek Orthodox Church in Flushing, New York, where they are housed at Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church.
At the event in December 1972, Archbishop Iakovos, then the Greek Orthodox primate of North and South America, was joined by the late Bishop Francis Mugavero, Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn in New York, who served as the main celebrant.
As a result, Nicholas of Myra is sometimes referred to as Nicholas of Bari.
He explains that “they are a symbol of the purity of Nicholas’s life,” that his body is uncorrupt and pleasant even in death, as Father Palis explains.
As a result of his research, Palis raises the question of whether or not there was more than one Nicholas in the historical record.
This abbot journeyed to the Holy Land and back, and he is credited with performing miracles at sea on the route.
If this is the case, it would explain some of the inconsistencies in Nicholas’ brief history.
Other stories have Nicholas as the abbot of the monastery who was elevated to the position of bishop.
Witness to the Power of Love Father Palis argues that the name Nicholas is derived from two Greek words, Niki (“victory”) and laos (“people”), which mean “victory of the people.” As a result, Nicholas denotes a person who has achieved victory in the eyes of the people.
“I believe Saint Nicholas inspires individuals to emulate his characteristics of compassion, love, and enthusiasm on a consistent basis.” According to Father Palis, while most people are focused on Saint Nicholas’ compassion, they overlook one of his most important virtues: austerity.
If Jesus could do all of these miracles and have such a godly devotion, he must have been an exceptionally saintly individual.” It is the account of Nicholas’ ordination that Father Palis finds so poignant.
In prayer, the bishops were instructed to apprehend the next individual who ran into the church and elevate him to the position of bishop via divine revelation.
He is a model of commitment.
The image of St.
According to some accounts, there are more churches named after Saint Nicholas than after any other saint, with the probable exception of those named for the Blessed Mother.
They referred to Nicholas as the patron saint of all travelers, including airline passengers, in the advertisement.
He was persecuted as a result of his religious beliefs.
He endured torture in jail and lived through the tremendously difficult years of the newly emancipated Church clarifying its principles.
Followers of these two individuals practically rioted in the streets against one another.
However, the debate over the notion of Jesus’ divinity raged on for decades after his death.
According to legend, he was censured until the same bishops had a dream in which God instructed them to restore Nicholas to his position.
No matter how genuine or false this account turned out to be, it placed Nicholas solidly on the side of those who declared Jesus to be “in being with the Father” in the effort to capture the minds and hearts of Christians during that time period.
Nicholas and Jesus are two of the most important people in the world.
Nicholas, which takes place in the days before Christmas, to concentrate our attention on Jesus.
He was deeply committed to charitable work, but he saw charity as being inextricably related to justice.
Those imprisoned for political reasons across the world, as well as those who have been falsely accused, may all bear witness to the face of Jesus in our modern world.
Finally, Saint Nicholas teaches us how to discover Jesus via prayer and religious enthusiasm in the final chapter of his life.
That person embodies the genuine Christmas spirit.
It is said that Nicholas once traveled across the sea on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and this is the most well-known story.
They came to the holy bishop and pleaded with him to intervene on their behalf.
The sailors were taken aback and expressed their gratitude to God.
He came back to life when Nicholas prayed for him and baptized him.
Throughout his life, he urged his followers to convert their hearts to God and repent of their sins.
They went by the names of Nepotian, Ursyna, and Apollyn.
Nicholas invited them to dine with him and other dignitaries of the town.
Whether the consul sought to aid the rebellion or steal the princes’ money is not clear.
Even as the executioner had his sword raised over the princes’ heads, Nicholas stormed into the room and blocked the executioner!
Then he confronted the corrupt consul, who repented.
After making peace with the rebellion leaders, they sailed to Constantinople, where the emperor awaited their report of success.
One of them persuaded the others to pray to Nicholas.
When they heard the news, they fell to their knees and praised God!
Over the years, Saint Nicholas interceded in the courts for many others who were falsely accused.
Despite the insecurity of being an orphan, he selflessly wanted to share this wealth with those in need.
Nicholas was familiar with a man who was the father of three adolescent daughters.
A dowry was also required, and without it, the girls would have had little chance of finding a marriage.
Nicholas, in order to maintain his anonymity, threw a bag of gold through the window of their home one night during the night.
He expressed gratitude to God for his excellent fortune.
After a little while, Holy Nicholas performed the same deed for the second daughter as well.
After hearing the third bag of gold fall to the ground beneath his window, he raced out and caught up with Nicholas, who was fleeing from the police. However, the news ultimately came out since the saint had sworn him to silence.