It wasn’t until 1836, that Christmas on December 25 became a holiday in America, at least in Alabama. Since colonial times, America’s Puritan roots had rejected Christmas as pagan practice. In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant designated December 25 and Christmas a federal holiday, downplaying its pagan roots. Grant’s objectives were practical, as he sought the declaration of the Christmas Holiday on December 25 as an effort to heal the deep scars between North and South following the Civil War.
Modern culture transformed the name and personality of St. Nicholas to St. Nick, and eventually to Santa Claus, and moved his home from Turkey to the North Pole. The transformation also defined giving in the modern age in a consumer economy.
The Turkish people call St. Nicholas, "Father Noel" or "Noel Baba”, and remember that Nicholas was an Anatolian mystic and philanthropist who was the only son of a wealthy family. Nicholas later became the Bishop of Myra. St. Nicholas was one of the earliest figures of the humanitarian school of thought that flourished in Anatolia and manifested in both Eastern Orthodox and Islamic mysticism.
St. Nicholas encouraged anonymous giving as an ethical form of giving. He preached that the generosity of those who gave anonymously would be felt by all, and would inspire people to reflect upon their own generosity and selflessness. Those who gave would be satisfied not by the praise they received, but by the joy they selflessly brought to others.
As St. Nicholas' name was changed and his home relocated, so has been altered the focus of giving in contemporary society. But, still to this date, the spirit of giving continues in the heart of Anatolia and a trademark of Turkish hospitality.