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Thursday, December 06, 2007
Thursday Thirteen #23

Today is December 6. It is the feast day of St. Nicholas. So, today here are
Thirteen reasons/explanations how St. Nicholas, Santa Claus,
and Christmas became so closely related.

1. 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"?

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Blogger Yuriko said...
You know, I heard that Christmas was moved from January into December in order to coincide with some pagan holiday.. I don't know if it's true.. :) Happy TT! Merry Xmas!

Blogger Adelle said...
Great list! I love learning things like this. Be sure to check out my Christmas Classics. Happy Holidays!

Blogger Nicholas said...
That is very interesting. Thank you for that list. I wonder when the tradition that Santa lives at the North Pole, with elves etc first sprang up.

Blogger Coco said...
I was almost named Nicky after St.Nicholas because I was due sometime in December. Thanks for the extra knowledge :)

Blogger Kate Davies said...
Great TT! I love historical background stuff like this. :) Thanks for visiting my blog, too!

I like this list, Denise! You did a lot of research for us. When my kids were small, we celebrated St. Nick's Day (and they got small presents on the porch). They thought he was a different guy, and believed in HIM long after they believed in the Santa Claus that came on Christmas Eve.
This Eclectic Life

Blogger Joely Sue Burkhart said...
Ah, I love the Christmas season! Happy TT and thanks for visiting my blog!

Blogger Robin said...
What an informative list. Thank you for taking the time.

Fourier Analyst just did a series of posts on SinterKlaas in the Netherlands. I think you'd really enjoy them:

Blogger Babystepper said...
As always, great information. You should change it from Denise's Den to Denise's Library.

Blogger Vicki Gaia said...
Great history lesson...I love history, as you know! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Blogger jayedee said...
great list! your tt is always an adventure in learning for me!
have a wonderful day!

Blogger Lori said...
Wow, how cool. I had no idea. Happy TT and thanks for sharing and stopping by:)

Blogger Greatfullivin said...
Wonderful post, quite a history lesson. Very interesting, as always. I can't believe no one answered your question yet. Clement C. Moore wrote A Visit from St.Nicholas for his children. Have a great TT

Blogger Sandy Carlson said...
This is really great. Now I can explain the Dec. 6 story to my daughter. I didn't have the details this a.m., so thanks for the help.

This was fascinating.

Blogger Nap Warden said...
Great's alot to take in!

Anonymous Mama Pajama said...
I learned a lot today! Love all the history behind the legend!

Anonymous Xakara said...
Firt, thanks for the information. I love TT's that give me a bit of history.

Second, always glad to find a fellow Samhellion's TT since it seems so few of us do them.

Thrid, I'm all official and on the coming soon page with my cover and blurb and I've finally come across another Samhellion to share it! LOL. (I know, I could have posted on the Author loop but I'm still catching up there.)

Happy TT


Blogger damozel said...
A great post---I never knew all of that before, though I did have a vague recollection that Santa was the descendant of an actual saint. And to think we've gone from him to Barbie Malibu Beach Houses under the tree.

I remember the first time I met Santa, when I was four years old. He showed up at my kindergarten class and I was TERRIFIED. I hid under the piano. (Seeing Sinterklasse kind of reminded me...)

thanks for visiting ours: BN-Politics

Blogger No Nonsense Girl said...
I learned a lot about Santa Claus!!! :)

Blogger Christine d'Abo said...
I knew some of these, but I'd forgotten quite a bit. Awesome list. :D

Blogger The Gal Herself said...
So much of this was news to me! Thanks for sharing (and thanks for visiting my TT)

Blogger Nicole Austin said...
Wow, interisting list! I knew some of it, but also learned a few new things.

Happy TT!

Blogger Dragonheart said...
Thanks for sharing all that information! Here in Germany, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on Dec. 6th, so I know a lot about St. Nicholas. Here in Bavaria, his helper is often known as Krampus as well. :)

Blogger Darla said...
Interesting! We celebrated St. Nicholas Day yesterday, but I didn't know all this. Thanks!

Very cool stuff, Denise!!

Blogger Malcolm: said...
I find it interesting to learn the origins of traditions. I esp. liked the story of how St. Nicholas saved the daughters of a poor man from being sold into slavery.

Blogger Tink said...
I think Sinterklaas and Santa clearly have their roots in common. :-)
Thanks for visiting my animated movies TT.

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