Monday, December 15, 2008

Saint Nicholas

A medieval fresco depicting St Nicholas from the Boyana Church, near Sofia, Bulgaria
Santa Claus has a variety of different names in different languages,
but they all refer to the person of St. Nicholas.
Few documents exist which mention him, however legends of his generosity
exist throughout most churches. Thousands of churches in the
Middle Ages were dedicated to him. St. Nicholas performed a number of miracles, all associated
with gift giving. His feast days are
December 6th and December 25th.
Saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian
figure of Santa Claus. He was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop
of Myra in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Anatolia, now in Turkey.
Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor,
in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters
of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not
have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age
and devoted his life entirely to Christianity.
1881 illustration by Thomas Nast
In 1823, Clement C. Moore wrote "A Visit from St. Nicholas',
which showed Santa Claus driving a sleigh drawn by "eight tiny reindeer"
and in doing so he created an image we all have today.
Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus based on
Moore's description cementing in this image.
The probable origins of various traditions
which then spread around the world include:
~~~~ Gifts ~ from the generosity of St. Nicholas
~~~ Reindeer ~from the north and Santa needed transportation
~~~~ Chimney~ Santa comes secretly and so the entrance
must be secret and easy to use. In Germany and Scandinavia
often Santa comes through the door.
~~~~ North Pole~ America's Father Christmas dwells there, Santa Claus
needed somewhere to live that couldn't really be visited or proven wrong.
~~~~ Beard~ St. Nicholas, the Magi are bearded, white because of age.
~~~~ Costume~ Cloak from St. Nicholas, and perhaps the Magi.
The fur probably added to fit the Northern legend.
~~~~ Sock~ Hung by the chimney to dry and
they make a good repository for presents. ~~~~
I love to learn how traditions started! I had forgotten that Santa Claus
was originally a patron saint remembered for his generosity
and gift giving!
So, how many names can you think of for Saint Nicholas?
Santa, Father Christmas........

**info and pics from wiki


  1. We have some friends who's daughter called him "Ho-Ho". She was afraid of him.

  2. What fun facts! We don't teach our children that their gifts come from *Santa* (although I'm not anti-santa--he's just a fun part of the holidays for us), but we do teach them about the legend of St. Nicholas. It's such an inspiring true story!

  3. Pere Noel, Sinter Klaas and Kris Kringle.

    I always like to hear how things came to be also. Thanks for the info. I noticed your blue bird ornament on the sidebar. It is lovely.

  4. My sister used to call him 'Christmas Faver'. Still does, as far as I know!

  5. A few yrs ago I've visited St Nicholas's in Myra, the south of our country, and amazing! Merriest wishes to you and yours*

  6. Betsy, we celebrate St Nicholas day on the 6th of December, in eastern Europe, where I am from originally. I used to always get presents on that day when I was a child.;)

  7. Lora ~ I've never heard of anyone teaching the legend of St. Nicholas! I wish I had known it when my kids were younger!

  8. Steviewren ~ Kris Kringle...I love that one!

  9. Great post. In Albania we called him the Plaku I Vitit Ri
    meaning The New Year Old Man. He came on Dec 31 and I still stay up and wait for him :-)

  10. Edi ~ I have not heard of this! Wow...really neat!

  11. Beautiful post, Betsy!

    We used the legend as a lesson for our son ( we home school) and only then did I learn fully about the legend of St. Nicholas.

  12. There's Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Shengdan (I think) in China, Hagios Nikolas, for a start ....

  13. David ~ those are some good ones...some I have never heard of before!

  14. Very informative post of St Nicholas. I'll take a piece of Mamie's fudge, please.
    The Bach

  15. Great post! Very informative and fun. I love the pretty fudge on your sidebar. I'd bet the boys love it.

  16. Nanatrish ~ I wish the boys ate my fudge, but they don't eat any sweets like that.

  17. I love the stories of Santa. I believe that all of the names for him are mentioned in the 'Santa Clause' movies. Our all time favorite Christmas movie is 'Santa Claus the Movie'.
    Isn't wonderful that the legend was inspired by a real person, who by reputation was a giver!!

  18. No matter what he's called, it warms our hearts when we hear his name...I always think of the generosity of Spirit and the birth of Jesus and wonder if perhaps he WAS one of the wise men...lovely post. And congratulations on a Post of the Day nom


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