Once upon a time, Santa Claus was a natural person. There was no magic sleigh or flying reindeer, of course, but there was the true meaning of Christmas: kindness and giving. Santa Claus originates from a person named Nicholas, born in modern-day Turkey. Nicholas was raised to be a Christian, and when his wealthy parents passed away, he obeyed Luke 18:22: “… sell all thou hast, and distribute unto the poor….” He did many good things for people in poverty, and following another verse in the Bible, did it all in secret.
One example that has led to a popular Christmas tradition is the story of a poor man who had three daughters. In the older days, a woman needed to have a dowry to have a chance at being married, but the man could not afford dowries for any of his daughters. He was prepared to sell them into prostitution or slavery, but St. Nicholas had other plans. In the middle of the night, three bags of gold were tossed through the window, landing in the shoes and stockings drying by the fire. This is where the tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace comes from. In some stories, St. Nicholas threw in three golden balls, and from that came the custom of oranges to represent the golden balls.
St. Nicholas went on to do many good things for people, even suffering persecution when Christianity was illegal.
So how did St. Nick turn into our beloved Kris Kringle? In 1773 and 1774, New York newspapers reported Dutch people had gathered together to honor him. ‘Santa Claus’ comes from the Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened version of Nikolaas. Over time, America adopted him as the giver of presents around Christmas time and lured their children into behaving by taking them to see Santa Claus at the mall.
Santa Claus may be commercialized now, but remember the once, long ago, St. Nicholas was only a man determined to spread kindness and goodwill, as we all should this Christmas season.
You guys are good at finding Fergus! But he ran away again!
Here’s his message!
You all are no fun,
You’re always finding me
Come on, how much better
Could the gingerbread man be?
This time I’m sure.
My hiding place is the best.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Is my book request!