Episode 9: The Real Santa Claus

Episode 9: The Real Santa Claus

The Real Santa Claus

Do you know the story of the real Santa Claus?

Yes, there is a Santa Claus. However, we know him more as St. Nicholas. Stories commonly told today about Santa Claus are based on legends surrounding the life of St. Nicholas, considered a patron of children for his generosity to them during his lifetime.

The image of Santa Claus has been popularised through television, movies and children’s story books. While some dislike the idea of gift-giving at Christmas, believing that the lavish celebrations are not in line with their faith, or that Santa has become a symbol of materialism, others believe that it continues to honour the life and deeds of Nicholas, an individual beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

Hear the story from Terry Lees on Silver Linings, which can inspire you towards the achievement of your dreams, to grow, expand, and meet the challenges of your daily life.


Listen to the episode below, or continue on to read the transcript.



The Real Santa Claus

Any child can tell you where Santa Claus is from—the North Pole. But his historical journey is even longer and more fantastic than his annual, one-night circumnavigation of the globe. And weather you call him Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Jolly Old St. Nick, everyone knows the story – or do they?

Yes, there is a Santa Claus. However, we know him more as St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas, also known as “Nikolaos of Myra,” was a fourth century saint and Greek bishop of Myra. Nicholas was born in Asia Minor in the Roman Empire, an only child to Christian parents. His parents died when he was young and left him a substantial inheritance, which he used for good works. He showed his love for his people by giving away money, clothing and food – always in secret. His fame spread throughout the world as a gift giver and provider and after his death on December 6, AD 343 he was revered as a Saint.

One popular story tells of a widower who had three daughters. He was going to sell them into slavery since he could not afford to provide the necessary dowries for their marriages. St. Nicholas heard of the plight of the daughters and decided to help. Over three nights, he went to their home and tossed bags of gold through an open window of the house, thereby supplying the money for a proper dowry for the daughters. St. Nicholas’ generosity spared the girls from a sad fate.

St. Nicholas’ reputation as a holy man spread. A later story tells of how St. Nicholas intervened to spare three innocent men sentenced to death by a corrupt governor, whom St. Nicholas confronted and moved to do penance.

Stories commonly told today about Santa Claus are based on legends surrounding the life of St. Nicholas, considered a patron of children for his generosity to them during his lifetime. The Dutch Protestants, who referred to him as Sint Klaes and later Santa Claus, distorted the devotion to St. Nicholas. They reimaged him as a more Nordic looking Father Christmas with a red suit. Over the centuries, the legends of St. Nicholas’s life grew with Northern European myths, eventually culminating in the children’s story A Visit from St. Nicholas, known better as The Night before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore. It imagined St. Nicholas as a “right jolly old elf,” traveling the world on Christmas Eve in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, distributing gifts to children.

In the 19th century, American authors also helped change the “bishop’s image” of St. Nicholas. In 1820, Washington Irving wrote a story of Santa Claus flying in a wagon to deliver presents to children. In 1882, Thomas Nast drew a picture of Santa Claus based on Moore’s description and even added that the North Pole was his home. Finally, an advertising artist for Coca-Cola, transformed Santa Claus into the red-suited, bigger-than-life, Coca Cola drinking jolly character we easily picture in our minds today.

The image of Santa Claus has been popularised through television, movies and children’s story books. While some dislike the idea of gift-giving at Christmas, believing that the lavish celebrations are not in line with their faith, or that Santa has become a symbol of materialism, others believe that it continues to honour the life and deeds of Nicholas, an individual beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

Whether he rides on a white horse, a reindeer or is pulled along by six white boomers, a spirit of goodness has entered the world through the Christmas story that’s inspired thousands through the centuries to leave their self-centredness behind and has reminded most of the world, at least once a year, that there is a better way.

Nobody sees Santa Claus but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see…. Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever.” This is a good testimonial of St. Nicholas and the joy he brings to our Christmas celebration.

May St. Nicholas inspire us with his prayers and example to celebrate a faith-filled Christmas and during this time of faith and family, may the true meaning of Christmas fill you with joy.

 

Look for the silver lining.

This is Terry Lees

[Music: Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys]