THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS GIFTS: WHO WAS REALLY ST.NICHOLAS?

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SANTA CLAUS:

THE KIND OLD MAN FROM NORTH POLE OR THE MYTHOLOGICAL PERSON?

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“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.”

Victor Borge

 

 

He is the most favorite man among the children, the timeless hero of our childhood and the romantic reflection of old, good times. He is Santa Claus, the friendly grandpa dressed in dominant red clothes mixed with white, the synonym of snowy December, Christmas and sharing. There is no person that has not experienced the symbolic moments of waiting for Santa Claus coming from the roof into the house, through the chimney.

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The magic of Christmas is not only because of the presents under the Christmas tree, it is about the belief that there is one old man who observes people and gives them exactly what they deserve. It is almost like a living the whole year in one moral box, thinking about the judge outside the box and the punishments or awards we will get if we do (not) play the right accords. Santa Claus is something like a civil version of God. His role in child’s life is more than educational. It has also the ethic elements. The families could be oriented as religious or atheistic but the portrait of Santa Claus is the same for all children, no matter where they live and how they think.

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Nevertheless, there is a story, real or fictional, about this beloved old man with beard, who was born as Nicholas in third century, in the village of Patara. At that time, Patara was Greek and now it is the southern coast of Turkey. The young Nicholas was devout Christian due to his parents’ active religious life. Unfortunately, they died in an epidemic and left Nicholas alone but very rich. He was very kind and generous and he tried to help people in needs, to follow the Jesus life of humility. He was serving God, bringing light there where was only darkness. It did not take long time so he was made Bishop of Myra but he was known as protector of children and sailors: „Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic called manna formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).”

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He helped the people who suffered from famine, those who had not homes and those who had not hopes. Nicholas did not help because he wanted something to get back; he wanted to help because his soul has been created for kindness and goodness. Even after his death, considered as a saint, his tomb in Myra became a place of pilgrimage. The Christians have been afraid that the enemies, during the wars, will destroy St. Nicholas tomb so the bones have been moved to Bari and beautiful Basilica di San Nicola is the pride of Bari as well as the Saint.

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I find very interesting actually the transformation of St. Nicholas into the Santa Claus in human’s hearts. After the Reformation hit the northern Europe in the 16th century, the roman-catholic tales about kind bishop have been replaced with the urban legends from the UK and European north. The English people imagined the Father Christmas who delivered presents to children at Christmas and the French called him Père Nöel. The German tradition shaped the Christkind while the first Dutch settlers in the USA came out with the name Kris Kringle that has been, some years later, changed into Sinterklaas or Santa Claus. The historians write: „Many countries, especially ones in Europe, celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day on 6th December. In Holland and some other European Countries, children leave clogs or shoes out on the 5th December (St. Nicholas Eve) to be filled with presents. They also believe that if they leave some hay and carrots in their shoes for Sinterklaas’s horse, they will be left some sweets.”

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The British Father Christmas and American Sinterklass have merged into magical Santa Claus that became a symbol of Christmas sharing, gifts and hopes. The powerful old man that travels through the sky on a sledge with reindeer and gets into the houses, through the chimneys, giving the presents to the good kids and inspiring the naughty ones, is a picture of comfort zone for individual and social spirit. Without him, the world would not fall apart but it would not be the same. The big and scary emptiness would eat up the future of children souls, offering hopeless existence. Santa Claus is more than a bedtime story or funny grandpa from cozy childhood. It is a shelter for the children, their last stand against the bites of the monster of difficult and grey reality. He is showing us that the crucial values will never be old-fashioned and that the kindness as well as good heart will always be on the top of the spirituality and the ethic blood in the veins of humankind.

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Why Santa Claus is always related to the rot color? Some people have believed that Santa Claus is a successful designed product of Coca Cola but this is not truth. Coca Cola has involved him in its own high-tech campaign since 1920s, but the red color leads us back to the St. Nicholas time. Our bishop had always worn a red robe. However, the modern image of Santa Claus started with the illustrations of St. Nick by Thomas Nast for the magazine Harper’s Weekly, in January 1863. The unforgettable portrait of Santa Claus in “Stars and Stripes” outfit created by Nast crawled into the hearts of millions children worldwide. When Coke adopted the funny old man and related to its famous Coke truck, the feeling of Santa Claus’s Christmas was forever changed into the sign of Coca Cola. It is amazing how powerful is good advertising and advanced marketing. The Coke machinery turned the Santa Claus and Christmas sharing into the commercial field and took away the real spirit and purpose of giving and receiving the gifts.

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From marvelous bishop in red, guardians of the sailors to the sky traveler from Lappland, Santa Claus is an urban legend that keeps our children comforted and sheltered within the cruel world of insanity. Every year, on the Christmas Eve, we are all looking forward for a moment of that Santa Claus’s magic, for a dust in the wind, the sign that he is coming into the town, together with holidays. We are all seeking for that little piece of hope, love and fantasy able to move our ordinary lives into the extraordinary stories. That is the best gift ever, staying child deep within and believing that good things are on the road.

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Happy St. Nicholas Day.

5 thoughts on “THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS GIFTS: WHO WAS REALLY ST.NICHOLAS?

  1. Sarah’s beautiful and informative article brought to mind the origin of the Christ Mass: Y’shua bar Yossef (i.e. Iesus Nazarenus, circa 4 BCE – 33 CE) was extended Roman taxation recognition (i.e. 4 BCE census) that did not correspond with what the Christian hierarchy would decide upon many centuries later.

    The first recorded Christ Mass took place in Rome in 336 CE. December 25th was the date of the winter solstice on the ancient Roman calendar. According to an early Christ Mass sermon by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) ‘He was born on the day which is the shortest in our earthly reckoning and from which subsequent days begin to increase in length. Therefore, He who bent low and lifted us up chose the shortest day, but the one whence light begins to increase…’

    In the 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726) argued that the date of the Christ Mass was selected to correspond with the winter solstice (i.e. a symbolic date, as opposed to being factual).

    Historically, the Christ Mass was prohibited by the English Puritans, when they briefly held power in England during The English Interregnum (1649–1660), and in Colonial Brith North America where the Puritans outlawed the celebration of the Christ Mass in 1659. Their reasoning was that the original and pure purpose of the Christ Mass had been distorted and replaced by false imagery of the Catholic Church hierarchy. The early-Christians (c. 1st century CE) were very simplistic and pure in their outward symbolic observances. As Sarah articulates in her article, Saint Nicholas was an example of this tradition of compassion, empathy and generosity. This has been reinvented by Christian hierarchies throughout the millennia to serve their own socio-political agendas…

    The practice of putting up special decorations at the advent of the Christ Mass has a long history: in the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at the Christ Mass for every house and all the parish churches ‘to be decked with holm, ivy, bays and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green’. The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolise the coming to Earth of the supposed Messiah, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches; its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Y’shua bar Yossef at his crucifixion, and the blood he shed.

    The Christ Mass tree is considered by some as Christianisation of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice; which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship. According to 8th-century biographer Æddi Stephanus, Saint Boniface (634–709 CE), who was a missionary in Germania, took an axe to an oak tree dedicated to Thor and pointed out a fir tree, which he stated was a more fitting object of reverence because it pointed to the Biblical Heaven and it had a triangular shape, which he exclaimed was symbolic of The Trinity.

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    1. This is all true and any genuine follower of Christ who knows his teachings would steer clear of this false worship which grossly dishonours him. The merry making and even the slogan “Merry Christmas” reflects the drunken orgies that marked the Roman celebration of the solstice. They invoked sex worship in their tree symbols to encourage the return of the fertile sprong. The balls we see on Christmas trees are symbolic of testicles. The round holes in the wreaths are vaginas and the glitter is sperm. Do you think Christ approves of all this?

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  2. What a wonderful article, Sarah ! You have brought back so many good memories and have made me nostalgic for the past !

    I remember as a little kid when my mom and grandma would put candy in our slippers and gifts under the Christmas tree ! What an amazing feeling that was ! A feeling of hope and inner warmth ! That feeling is ineffable !

    It was an era where we, as children, had hope, and believed that the good was rewarded, whereas the bad was not ! We were full of dreams and life seemed so beautiful ! It felt that our aspirations could be as lofty as the stars !

    Where did all those dreams go ?

    Maybe, somehow, we should all still dream !

    Thank you so much, Sarah, for your heart-warming and beautiful article ! It has brought back memories of my childhood and has filled my heart with much-needed warmth ! Bless you always !

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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !