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Bishop Nicholas of Myra, also know at St. Nicholas and Santa Claus, telling children how a young boy named Nicholas from a very small town became known all over the world as Santa Claus.
Before there was Santa Claus there was Saint Nicholas.
Before there was Saint Nicholas there was Bishop Nicholas of Myra in Turkey.
Before there was Bishop Nicholas of Myra there was a young orphan boy named Nicholas.
This is his story…
Nicholas was born around the year 270 in the city of Patara in a country we now call Turkey. According to some reports, he was the only son of Christian parents named Epiphanius and Johanna. As a young boy growing up he had tutors who taught him to read and write and do arithmetic. Both of his parents died when he was still young and he went to live with an uncle, also named Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Patara.
After his parents died, Nicholas’ uncle arranged for him to have more education. After his schooling was completed, Nicholas became a minister or priest. Later he was made a Bishop in the town of Myra in Turkey. As a Bishop he was responsible for many other ministers or priests. Bishops usually wear a long red robe and that is why Santa Claus (Nicholas) today wears a red suit with a red coat. The white fur was added by people in northern Germany who felt he needed it to help keep him warm during the cold German winters.
Santa Claus was not always “Santa Claus”.
All his life Nicholas believed he should help people as much as he could. One story is told about a poor man who had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. (In those days a man received a dowry of money, property or livestock, so that he would marry someone.) This meant that the girls would remain unmarried.
Hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him, but being too modest to help the man in public (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house.
Some people believe that one of the daughters had washed her stockings that evening and hung them near the fireplace to dry and that the bags of gold fell into her stockings. That explains why we still hang stockings near the fireplace at Christmas.
As Nicholas continued to help people, people began to talk about him and how wonderful a person he was. Soon people began calling him Saint Nicholas.
As stories of Nicholas continued over the centuries, people in other countries learned of him and spoke of him in their own language. In Holland, Saint Nicholas became "Sinterklaas". When Dutch people came to America to live they brought their stories with them. Over the years, Americans changed "Sinterklaas" to "Santa Claus".
In many countries either December 6th or December 19th are celebrated as Saint Nicholas Day and that is the day he delivers presents in those countries.
Because of his good deeds, many churches were built all over the world and named for Saint Nicholas.
For more information about Saint Nicholas, click HERE.