reek Orthodox tradition tells of
being born around 280 AD, the only child of a wealthy, elderly couple who lived in Patara, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey).
When his parents died in a plague,
inherited their wealth.
generously gave to the poor, but did it anonymously as he wanted the glory to go to God.
One notable incident was when a
in town had gone
not only threatened to take the merchants' assets,
but also his children.
The merchant had
and knew if they were taken it would probably mean a life of sex-trafficking and prostitution.
The merchant had the idea of
quickly marrying his daughters off
so the creditors could not take them.
he did not have money for a dowry
, which was needed in that area of the world for a legally recognized wedding.
heard of the merchant's dilemma and
threw a bag of money in the window
for the oldest daughter's dowry.
the bag of money
landed in a
shoe or a stocking
that was drying by the
It was the talk of the town when the first daughter got married.
then threw a bag of money in the window for the
and she was able to get married.
Upon throwing money in for the
, the merchant ran outside and caught Nicholas.
Nicholas made him promise not to tell where the money came from.
This was the origin of the tradition of
on the anniversary of
' death, which was
DECEMBER 6, 343 AD.
three gold balls
outside a pawnbrokers shop represent the
three bags of gold
St. Nicholas used to rescue a family in their time of financial need.
Get the book There Really is a Santa Claus - The History of St. Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions
Bishop of Myra
, a busy port city on the coast of Asia Minor.
Soon St. Nicholas was
persecution of Christians.
would not deny his faith in Christ!
was freed when
ended Rome's three century long persecution of Christians.
When the first major heresy, the
, began to split the Christian Church, Constantine ordered all the bishops to go to
to settle it, which they did by writing the
The tradition is that
Council of Nicea
and was so upset at
for starting this heresy that
he slapped him across the face.
Jolly Old St. Nick had a little temper!
preached against sexual immorality and
Diana worship at Ephesus
also had preached according to the
Book of Acts, chapter 19.
Temple to Diana
was one of the
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
, having 127 huge pillars . . . and
It was the Las Vegas of the Mediterranean world.
The people responded to
St. Nicholas' fiery preaching
tearing down the local temple to Diana.
also stood up to corrupt government politicians.
One story was of a
who was about to execute some innocent soldiers in order to cover up his misdeeds.
broke through the crowd, grabbed the executioner's sword, threw it down and then exposed the governor's evil plot.
Greek Orthodox tradition attributes many
Once a storm was so bad fishermen and sailors were not able to get back to shore.
The people asked St. Nicholas to pray and the sea became calm enough for the fishermen and sailors to return safely to port.
This led to
being considered the patron saint of sailors.
There Really is a Santa Claus-The History of Saint Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions
reputation grew so much that he became to
Greek Orthodox Christians
Roman Catholic Christians
In the 5th century a church in Myra was named after St. Nicholas, being rebuilt by
after an earthquake in 529.
Vladimir the Great of Russia
converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity and adopted Nicholas as the
Patron Saint of Russia
In the 11th century,
Muslim terrorists, the Seljuks Turks,
invaded Asia Minor,
killing Christians, destroying churches and digging up the bones of Christian saints and desecrating them
For protection, Christians shipped the remains of
to a church in the town of
in southern Italy in the year 1087.
Pope Urban II
dedicated the church, naming it after St. Nicholas - the
Basilica di San Nicola
, thus introducing the
Greek St. Nicholas
to Western Europe.
So many Christians were fleeing the Muslim invasion of Eastern Europe that
Pope Urban II
went to the Council of Claremont in 1095 and called upon European leaders to send help.
Help was sent help - it was called the
remains in Italy, western Europeans quickly embraced the gift-giving traditions associated with
St. Nicholas' Day - DECEMBER 6.
How did St. Nicholas become Santa Claus?
and ended all "saints days," including the popular
"St. Nicholas Day."
Since Germans like the gift-giving so much,
moved the gift-giving to December 25th to emphasize that
all gifts from from the Christ Child.
The German pronunciation of Christ Child was
, which over the centuries got pronounced
Greeks built on the prophecy of
Jesus returning at the end of the world
to judge the living and the dead,
riding a white horse,
saints returning with him riding white horses.
will certainly be one of those returning saints.
Just like the Roman Catholics stories of St. Peter being at the Gates of Heaven, the Greek have the story of
coming back once a year for a sort of mini
Over the centuries, the story evolved.
In Norway they did not have horses so
is riding a reindeer.
Saints came heaven, the New Jerusalem, the
- which turned into the
Lamb's Book of Life
Book of Works
turned into the
Book of the Naughty and the Nice.
During Henry VIII's reign in England, Christmas became a time of partying and carousing. When Puritans took over England and outlawed Christmas as too worldly.
When the Puritans settled Massachusetts, they had a five shilling fine for anyone caught celebrating Christmas.
, which became
The Dutch pronounced
s," which became
g, who wrote
Legend of Sleepy Hallow
Rip Van Winkle
Diedrich Knickerbocker's A History of New York,
1809, in which he swapped out
St. Nicholas' Bishop's outfit
Dutch outfit of long-trunk hose, leather belt, boots and a stocking hat.
wrote in 1823 "A Visit From
'TWAS the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung
by the chimney with care,
In hopes that
soon would be there..."
"He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself...."
To find out how
Harper's illustrator Thomas Nast
Coca Cola artist Haddon Sundblom
"Jolly Old St. Nick,"
and much, much more, get the fascinating book:
There Really is a Santa Claus-The History of Saint Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions.
Kirk Cameron mentioned Bill Federer's book in an interview about his new movie Saving Christmas