Note: This blog post was originally published On December 24 2013.
Have you ever wondered why your parents went through all of that trouble to tell you about Santa Claus and being good in order to receive presents? Was it all an elaborate scheme that all parents had everywhere to get their children to behave albeit for a short period of time? Well as we all became older and became parents we continued to tell our children about Santa Claus… and the story… just continued!
But wait… hold on there… STOP THE BUS!!! A story this elaborate, so contrived, that has gone on for I don’t know how long has to have some basis of fact? Doesn’t it? Well, I’m here to tell you IT DOES!! According to History.Com the legend of Santa Claus goes back to the third century! Originally Santa was a monk named St. Nicholas.
The Santa Claus story
St. Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in (modern day) Turkey. He was much admired for his piety and kindness, and It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. Over the course of many years, St. Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. In fact, his feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death on December 6. This day was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe.
A legend is born
So, when and how did he become Santa Claus? According to History.Com, the name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In addition, the legend grew to its current imagery when in 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” Moore’s poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head!
Well as you can probably imagine the story continues…. For additional information on the Big Jolly Fella check out the Museum of Unnatural History and the St. Nicolas Center.
As we celebrate Christmas don’t forget the reason for the season… a celebration of the birth of Christ (for all of us Christians) and a celebration of family and spirit of giving for all of us no matter your religious beliefs and/or spiritual connection. At this time we need to be especially kind, helpful, and loving to everyone we meet and interact with. Remember when the time comes, share the “true” story of Santa Claus and his love and generosity toward all!
I want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season!!!