Today is December 6. It is the feast day of St. Nicholas. So, today here are1.
Thirteen reasons/explanations how St. Nicholas, Santa Claus,
and Christmas became so closely related.
St. Nicholas was a 4th century Bishop who lived in what is now Turkey, in the city of Myra. It is said that he was well loved and loved children, especially the children of the poor. He was known to give small gifts anonymously. He is the patron saint of children.2.
He is said to have distributed all of his wealth to the poor and dedicated his life to Christ at an early age.3.
One of the actions he is credited with involved saving the daughters of a poor man from being sold into slavery by providing them with dowries. The story goes that he dropped three small bags of gold down the chimney and they landed in the girls' stockings which had been hung by the fire to dry. I guess you know what that story led to.4.
St. Nicholas is particularly revered as an icon in the Russian Orthodox Church. He is most often depicted wearing his bishop's robes, which are scarlet, and wearing his bishop's hat.5.
St. Nicholas is the patron saint of the small town of Beit Jala in Palestine, which is located a mere two kilometers west of Bethlehem. According to history, Nicholas spent four years in the small town during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On December 6, Mass is held in the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church followed by parades, exhibitions and other activities.6.
December 6 is his feast day because it is the day he died. He is particularly popular in Europe, and known by a variety of names.7.
In Europe, children in many countries leave their boots out for St. Nicholas to fill. The tradition is that is the child was good, they will get small toys and candy, but if they were bad, they would get a tree branch or switches. In practice, most children get both. This is where the tradition of "naughty and nice" began.8.
This tradition is practiced mostly in the United States in cities where large German populations settled, as they brought the tradition with them. However, the "bad" children also get lumps of coal as well as the switches.9.
In countries with very Catholic traditions, St. Nicholas is often accompanied by a helper whose job it is to frighten the children into being good. While some countries still employ this tactic, in other places, the helper is more of an angel than a devil and there to help the children. Does anyone else see the parallel of elves here?10.
Some names St. Nicholas and his helper are known by:
Sankt Nikolaus - Knecht Ruprecht (Germany)
Sankt Nikolaus - Schmutzli (Switzerland)
Sveti Nikola - Krampus (Croatia)
Kleeschen - Houseker (Luxembourg)11.
San Nicola is the patron saint of Bari, Italy. It is where his remains are - but only because they were taken from Myra in the 11th century after the area was overrun by the Seljuk Turks, who were also Muslim. Italian sailors took advantage of the confusion in 1071 and carried the remains away. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors (and other wanderers).12.
Sint-Nicolaas is the Dutch version and most commonly known as Sinterklaas (pictured above), although in the Netherlands December 6 is celebrated as St. Nicholas' name day (birthday). In their tradition, Sinterklaas carries around a golden book with the names of all the good children in it, and his helper, Zwarte Pieten (Black Pete), carried around a black book with the names of all the bad children in it. Guess which list is the "nice" list and which is the "naughty" list.13.
Sinterklaas was introduced in America by the Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) during the Revolutionary War. Once the former Dutch colony was no longer Dutch, his reintroduction was an attempt to hold on to their non-American roots. Eventually the name was "Americanized" to Santa Claus.
Speculation is that until the advent of the poem, "A Visit From St. Nicholas," St. Nicholas Day and Christmas were very separate traditions. However, with St. Nicholas visiting on "the night before Christmas" in the poem, so began the mixture of the two holidays. What do you think?Today's question: Who wrote "A Visit From St. Nicholas"?
Labels: December 6, St. Nicholas Day, Thursday Thirteen