From orphan to priest, a prisoner to a bishop, a doer of good deeds and a believed miracle worker, to a jolly fat man riding a sleigh. He is the patron of sailors and archers, repentant thieves, merchants, children and students, a canonized Catholic saint also commemorated by Lutheran, Angelican and Orthodox Christians and some Methodists and Baptists.
Through the centuries many legends have surrounded Saint Nicholas. He is one of the most popular and central figures in present day secular and religious holiday festivities, a revered icon of Christmas, loved by millions around the world, especially children.
Hagios Nikólaos was born of Christian Greek parents in now modern dayTurkey back in the third century, and later became most recognized for giving gifts to the poor, mainly underprivileged children who were known to find coins left in their shoes by him. This in time evolved into the hanging of the traditional Christmas stocking out on Christmas Eve by children globally. Later the reverence grew and even today in places like The Netherlands, France, Belgium etc. the feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated with great zest. Kids leave their shoes out on the eve of the feast (December 5th) and a lot of gift giving takes place then and the following day.
In those places, St. Nicholas is known simply as Sinterklaas (Sanctus Nicolaus – Latin), which over time and everywhere else somehow turned into what we all know as Santa Claus.
Undoubtedly, Santa Claus or St. Nick as I like to call him is one of my favourite things about Christmas. Being born into a Catholic family, there were plenty of stories I got to hear of the saintly man all through my formative years.
It was the stories which always held me, the absolute certainty with which they were narrated over and over again by scores of people. A new one here, a similar one by another, a completely different version by someone else. Aunts, parents, neighbours, the nuns at our school, everyone knew of him, everyone had their own story to tell. The writer in me loved how this character drew people to him, the depth he presented, the mystery always surrounding him, his selfless deeds which seemed remarkable, his presence which continues to dominate, be it the age old tradition of children around the world awaiting his arrival on Christmas Eve, or his very role which adults adopt when they play ‘Secret Santa’ during the holidays.
Saint Nicholas has numerous names, is peppered throughout literature, music, the arts, and even media. He has been depicted wearing different kinds of clothing and carrying in his hands anything from oranges to a crosier or a Bible. The jolly old man in a red suit we call Santa today was re-created by Coco Cola for an ad campaign in the 1920s and became a commercial success. There is not enough time, space and images to detail this legend in all of his glory.
But, one thing is for certain, there is no one quite like him who can make a child’s Christmas sparkle with more anticipation, joy and wonder, and no icon more consistently popular as a patron to the Christmas (and overall) spirit of giving.
Saint Nick, Over the Years
If you have kids, or know kids who love the idea of Santa Claus, here are a few links I have used during the holidays over the years that my kids have loved and enjoyed (also, some adults I know who have.)
Personalized video message from Santa (If you have kids between 5-8, they will be thrilled): https://www.portablenorthpole.com/
Santa Tracker (Great for any age): http://trackingsanta.net/
Santa Games: http://www.santagames.net/
DECEMBER DELIGHTS HOLIDAY SWAG
ENTER DAILY TO WIN (CONTEST FOR WEEK ONE CLOSES TOMORROW)
For a chance to win this page-turning novelette by the amazing Christa Wojo of My Sweet Delirium, you can do any one of the following.
1. Like our Facebook page and let us know you did via a comment there or here – (One entry)
2. Share this post using one of the buttons below, and post the linkback in the comment box so we know who you are – Your name gets entered once for every social media button you use, so share using as many of the ones listed. (Limited to one entry per button, not # of times shared)
3. Leave a comment in the box below to let us know why you like this post (repeat comments by readers will be counted as one entry)
The winner will be announced on Sunday December 07, 2014 and will be entered in our December Delights Bumper Draw !
Anne is a fiction writer and blogger, and a former hotelier living in the sprawling coastal city of Karachi, Pakistan, with her husband, two kids and a pet fish. A city girl at heart, she likes her coffee strong, books always within arm’s reach, perfumes by the boatload, music of the old school variety, beaches sans the crowds, cozy cafes early in the mornings, and intimate encounters with Jack Daniels on Saturday nights.