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Winter Solstice
The Yule Log
The Christmas Tree
Santa Claus

Saint Nicholas

Santa Claus
The history of Santa Claus is as multi-layered, multi-cultural and as fascinating as humanity itself.  It all begins with the life of an incredible man who lived during the dawning of the Christian Era -- Saint Nicholas.  Here I have included an excerpt from Wikipedia on Saint Nicholas, some additional linkage to other sites focusing on the historical "Santa Claus" and some lovely images, as well.  Enjoy.

"Saint Nicholas is the common name for Saint Nicholas of Myra, who had a reputation for secret gift-giving, but is now commonly known as Santa Claus. He lived in 4th century Myra in the Byzantine Empire's Lycia, the modern day Demre in the Antaly province of Turkey. This is as much as is generally known about him in the West.

This historical character was the inspiration for a mythical figure known as Nikolaus in Germany and Sinterklaas in the Netherlands and Flanders, which in turn was the inspiration for Santa Claus. Sinterklaas (a contracted form of Sint Nicolaas) is a major celebration in the Netherlands and in Flanders (see below). Among Orthodox Christians, the historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, children, and students in both Greece and Russia. He is also the patron saint of Barranquilla, Colombia and of Amsterdam.

Nature's Santa
By Peggy Abrams

Nicholas the clergyman

Nicholas of Myra (also Nikolaus) in Lycia, Asia Minor (lived c. 270 - 345/352), was a 4th century bishop and is a Christian saint. His feast day is December 6, presumably the date of his death. In the Netherlands 5 December is known as his feast: this is Sinterklaasavond, or St. Nicholas' Eve. Among Christians, he is also known as the "Miracle Worker". Several acts of kindness and miracles are attributed to him. Historical accounts often confuse him with the later Nicholas of Sion.

Nicholas was born in Asia Minor during the 3rd century at Patara in the province of Lycia, at a time when the region was Hellenistic in its culture and outlook. Nicholas became bishop of the city of Myra. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. He is said to have been born to relatively affluent Christian parents in Patara, Lycia, AsiaMinor, Roman Empire where he also received his early schooling. According to some sources, his parents died while he was still a child, leaving a paternal uncle to care for him. Other sources place the death of his parents at the time he was already a young adult, leading him to a period of soul-searching which finally resulted in his uncle introducing him to Christianity. Whatever the reason, as a young adult and scholar, Nicholas moved to Myra to continue his studies and there the above-mentioned uncle introduced him to the local bishop. The latter is said to have seen potential in the youth and took Nicholas under his patronage. Nicholas received his ordination as a priest at an early age.

Father Christmas
By Samuel James Carter

As the patron saint of sailors, Nicholas is claimed to have been a sailor or fisherman himself. More likely, however, is that one of his family businesses involved managing a fishing fleet. When his parents died, Nicholas still received his inheritance but is said to have given it away to charity. So was Saint Nicholas a working, albeit wealthy, man who complemented his day job with caring for his congregation, or was he a full-time bishop? The impressive list of deeds of Nicholas seems to point to the latter. This does not say, however, that his appointment to priest or bishop meant a complete rupture with his former life. More likely this was a gradual process.

Nicholas' early activities as a priest are said to have occurred during the reign of co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian (reigned 284 - 305) and Maximian (reigned 286 - 305) from which comes the estimation of his age. Diocletian issued an edict in 303 authorising the systematic persecution of Christians across the Empire. Following the abdication of the two Emperors on May 1, 305 the policies of their successors towards Christians were different. In the Western part of the Empire Constantius Chlorus (reigned 305 - 306) put an end to the systematic persecution upon his accession to the throne. In the Eastern part Galerius (reigned 305 - 311) continued the persecution until 311 when he issued a general edict of toleration from his deathbed. The persecution of 303 - 311 is considered to be the longest in the history of the Empire. Nicholas survived this period although his activities at the time are uncertain."



By Teresa Kogut


Jimmy and Jan's Santa


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