‘Santa Claus is the miracle worker and patron saint of the sea’

December 24, 2016

MIRACLE WORKER: St Nicholas, who Santa Claus is actually based on, was a devout follower of Jesus  who gave everything he owned to the poor and needy. He was Bishop of Myra in modern-day Turkey and suffered persecution under the Roman empire. St Nicholas Feast Day is widely celebrated across continental Europe. In the East he is celebrated as a gift giver and in the West as the patron saint of a variety of professions.

GOLDEN DOWRY: Hanging out stockings for Christmas is based on the legend that bags of gold were mysteriously thrown through open windows as a means for a poor family to get a higher value dowry to a well-heeled suitor looking to marry one of their daughters. They were left by an open fire in order for them to dry quickly. Picture courtesy of Pinterest.

MARITIME CONNECTION: St Nicholas is reputed to have calmed the storm through his prayers when returning back to Myra after being on pilgrimage to the Holy Island. The sailors who sailed with him feared they would lose their lives. This story is similar to the biblical story mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew Chapter 8 and Mark Chapter 4.

 

WHAT is the real story behind the old guy in the red jump suit with his sleigh with bell-wearing reindeer delivering gifts to the world’s children?

If you are waiting for Santa Claus to put your gifts in your Christmas tree and think that it has nothing to do with the Christian message of the season, you may be surprised.

Father Christmas or Santa Claus is based on the true story of Nicholas, who was born in the third century in the village of Patara, which was originally part of Greece and is now part of the southern coast of Turkey.

St Nicholas was raised to be a devout follower of Jesus Christ and when he an “encounter with God”, he felt obliged to “sell what he owned and give his money to the poor”. Many legends have developed over centuries about his generosity.

Whilst still a young man he was made Bishop of Myra – where he later died – and he became know for his kindness in the land for his generosity to those in poverty, his love for children and his concerns for sailors and shops.

Living under Roman occupation, Bishop Nicholas was persecuted for his faith, and was led into exile and imprisoned and the prisons were full of bishops, priests and deacon, there was no room there for genuine criminals

At the time of his living, a young woman’s father would have had to offer a dowry – something of value – for a potential husband. If the dowry was large, there was a better chance of the woman finding a good husband. Without a dowry, the woman was destined for poverty.

Many people will be ready to put their stockings for Santa Claus to fill tonight, but what is the origins behind this custom? A story goes that on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in the family’s home providing the much needed dowries through an open window. Bags of gold were said to have landed in stockings or shoes left by the fire in order for them to dry. So these symbols led to Nicholas being called the “gift giver”.

This led to the custom fo children hanging out stockings or putting out shoes, anticipating bags of gold but in our modern day, various treats.

In his links with the sea, legends abound that St Nicholas made the pilgrimage to Israel to explore the life and teachings of Jesus. On his return to Myra, a mighty storm arose and whilst the sailors with him feared they were going to die, Nicholas calmly prayed and the waves suddenly calmed and they survived. And to this day, he is called the patron saint of sailors.

Within much of continental Europe, 6 December is a day of gift giving and is seen as a form of early Advent gift-giving to help preserve the Christmas Day we will all be celebrating tomorrow.

May I wish everyone reading this a very Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rebeccare December 25, 2016 at 10:34 am

Nice one, Matt. Happy Christmas to you.

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