American Minute with Bill Federer

There Really is a Santa Claus! - History of Saint Nicholas and Christmas Traditions
Greek Orthodox tradition tells of Saint Nicholas, born around 280 AD, the only child of a wealthy, elderly couple who lived in Asia Minor (what is today Turkey).

When his parents died in a plague, Nicholas inherited their wealth, which he generously gave to the poor, anonymously.

A merchant in Nicholas' town of Patara had gone bankrupt and creditors were threatening to take the merchants' daughters into sex-trafficking.

The merchant wanted to hurry up and marry off his daughters so the creditors could not take them, unfortunately he did not have money for a dowry, which was needed for a legally recognized wedding. 

Nicholas heard of the merchants' dilemma and threw money in the window for the dowry.

The oldest daughter got married. It was the talk of the town.

Nicholas threw money in for the second daughter, which supposedly landed in a shoe or a stocking that was drying by the fireplace.

Upon throwing money in for the third daughter, the merchant ran outside and caught Nicholas.

Nicholas made him promise not to tell where the money came from, as he wanted the glory to go to God.

This inspired the tradition of secret gift-giving on the anniversary of Saint Nicholas' death, which was DECEMBER 6, 343 AD.

Nicholas became Bishop of Myra and was imprisoned during Emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians.

He was freed by Emperor Constantine.

Saint Nicholas attended the Council of Nicea where the Nicene Creed was written to settle the Arian heresy - the first major heresy to split the church.

Tradition has it, that Nicholas was so upset at Arius for starting this heresy that he slapped him across the face.

Nicholas preached against the fertility goddess "Diana" at Ephesus, where the Apostle Paul also had preached, as recorded in the Book of Acts, chapter 19.

Diana's temple, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, had 127 huge pillars...and temple prostitutes. It was the Las Vegas of the Mediterranean world.

The people responded to Nicholas' preaching by tearing down local temple to Diana.


Nicholas was known for courageously rescuing soldiers who were about to be executed by a corrupt governor.

Nicholas was known as a man of faith, having many miraculous answers to prayer.

 Find out the whole story in the book, There Really is a Santa Claus - The History of Saint Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions

In 430AD, Emperor Justinian built a cathedral and named it after Saint Nicholas.

In 988AD, Vladimir the Great of Russia converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity and adopted Nicholas as the Patron Saint of Russia. 

In the 11th century, Muslim Seljuks Turks invaded Asia Minor, killing Christians, destroying churches and digging up the bones of Christian saints and giving them to dogs.

In 1087, Christians, for protection, shipped the bones of Saint Nicholas to the town of Bari in southern Italy.

This introduced Saint Nicholas and gift-giving traditions associated with him to Western Europe. 

Eventually, Dutch immigrants brought the Saint Nicholas traditions to New Amsterdam, which became New York.

The Dutch pronounced Saint Nicholas - "Sinter Klass" or "Santa Claus."

To find out more of the captivating story of Saint Nicholas and how centuries of traditions embellished his story into "Jolly Ol' St. Nick," get the fascinating book,
There Really is a Santa Claus-The History of Saint Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions.
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Get the book, There Really is a Santa Claus-The History of Saint Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions


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