Everything you ever wanted to know about the original St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas is the jolly old fellow from which our modern-day Santa Claus evolved. Most people know that stories of Santa originated with St. Nicholas, but few really know anything about the true St. Nicholas, the man behind the legend.
The classic Santa is a jolly, old, white headed, heavy set, bearded man dressed in red and white with black boots.
Santa lives in the North Pole with Mrs. Claus, has a workshop full of elves that make toys, keeps a naughty and nice list, and flies around the world on Christmas Eve with his team of reindeer pulling his sleigh to deliver presents to the good boys and girls.
The concept of Santa was derived from stories of St. Nicholas, but this modern day vision became prevalent due to the description provided by Clement Clarke Moore in his classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which has come to be known as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”.
The real St. Nicholas…
St. Nicholas; however, was not a jolly ole’ guy that flew around the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. There are so many legends and folktales about St. Nicholas that it is really hard to separate fact from fiction.
A commonly held truth is that St. Nicholas was a bishop in Myra (modern-day Turkey). It is said that he inherited quite a fortune from his family but did not keep any of it for himself. Rather, St. Nicholas gave his fortune away by giving gifts to the less fortunate.
There are legends about St. Nicholas giving bags of gold to families whose daughters could not marry because they had no dowry. The gold given to them by St. Nicholas is believed to have kept them from being forced into prostitution.
Other legends about St. Nicholas say he was a miracle worker who brought much hope to the people, and that he was also a preacher. St. Nicholas is believed to have been imprisoned during Christian persecutions and later released after which he continued to preach and share God’s word.
There are many legends, myths and stories, but one thing is for certain, the memory of St. Nicholas is one of a generous, loving, Christian man.