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About 800 years ago some Christian women in France decided they would honor Nicholas on the evening before St. Nicholas Day which is December 6th.
For several weeks before that date the women collected food, clothing and toys for the poor people of their town. So that no one would know where the gifts came from, they asked Nicholas to deliver them at night when everyone was fast asleep. Before long this became an annual tradition and spread through all the countries around.
Pretty soon Nicholas was distributing gifts, not only to poor families, but also to girls and boys all over Europe — France, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Holland and many more. As Nicholas delivered these presents at night he soon became known as a special friend of children. Ho Ho HO!
It was the Dutch families who brought Nicholas to North America in the 1500’s to a city then called New Amsterdam. Today it is called New York City. And they still have Nicholas deliver presents on the evening before St. Nicholas Day.
The Dutch called Nicholas “Sinter Klaas” which means St. Nicholas in Dutch. But the people who spoke English pronounced it as Santa Claus. You see, Santa Claus really means St. Nicholas.
In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s a sad thing began happening. Many people began to forget why we celebrate Christmas. They began to throw wild, crazy, drunken parties on Christmas.
Is that the way to celebrate the birth of Jesus?
Finally, some folks went to Nicholas and said, “How about delivering your gifts on the evening before Christmas Day? Maybe that will help people understand the true meaning of Christmas.
“Oh, and one more thing, Nicholas,” they said. “We are going to give you an ‘extreme makeover!”
Do you know what they gave Nicholas to wear? A red suit trimmed with white fur. It looked a lot like some of the paintings of Bishop Nicholas from Northern Germany. Ho Ho HO!
So that is all about Saint Nicholas and how he became known as Santa Claus in America.
But in other countries Nicholas is called by other names…
But whatever he is called, wherever he is, He is still St. Nicholas who loves Jesus and children.
Now I want to tell you all why we call it Christmas.
After Jesus returned to Heaven, the disciples and other followers realized they did not know the real date that Jesus was born.
Remember Emperor Constantine? In the year 336, he started celebrating Jesus’ birthday on December 25th. A few years later Pope Julius I officially declared that Jesus’ birth would be celebrated on December 25th with a special worship service called a mass to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Soon this special worship service became known as Christ’s Mass and that day became known as Christmas.
So, whenever we say “Merry Christmas” to someone we are actually wishing for them to have a wonderful celebration of Christ’s birth.
Now I want to share a secret with you, “Why Santa is so jolly at Christmas time.”
Whose birthday do we celebrate at Christmas?
Wonderful children, NEVER, ever forget that Christmas is all about the birthday of Jesus.
Another question, “How do we treat others on Christmas Day?”
On Christmas Day we smile at people, we say nice things about them and we share food or gifts with them. Right?
Can we do those things every day? Of course, we can if we try. That’s why I like to say, “Treat every day like Christmas.”
And that’s why I’m so jolly on Christmas and every day.
Now remember, no matter what name I’m called —
My spirit is still the same.
I’m always the children’s friend and I’m filled with the joy of the birth of Jesus.