The History Saint
From Saint Nicholas through the middle
ages and up to our modern day Santa.
Discover the travels and evolution of the World's most prominent
Saint Nicholas - a brief
St. Nicholas was born in 280 AD, in Patara, a city of
Lycia, in Asia Minor. He became the gift giver of Myra.
His gifts were given late at night, so that the gift
giver's identity would remain a secret. St Nicholas was
eventually named the patron saint of children, sailors,
Russia and Greece.
St. Nicholas was a Christian priest, who later became a
bishop. He was a rich person, and traveled the country
helping people, giving gifts of money and other
presents. St. Nicholas did not like to be seen when he
gave away presents, so the children of the day were told
to go to sleep quickly or he would not come! Nothing has
changed and Santa Claus will not arrive this Christmas
unless the children go to sleep early.
A famous story about St. Nicholas, is about a poor man
who had no money to give to his three daughters on their
wedding day. St Nick dropped bags of gold into the
stockings which the girls had left to dry by the fire.
The sisters found the gold and ever since, children have
hung up stockings on Christmas Eve hoping that they will
be filled with presents by Christmas morning.
Despite being quite young Nicholas had earned a
reputation for kindliness and wisdom. In the year 303,
the Roman emperor Diocletian commanded all the citizens
of the Roman Empire, which included Asia Minor, to
worship him as a god.
Christians believed in one god and one god alone, so
their conscience would not allow them to obey the
Emperor's order. Angered by their stubbornness,
Diocletian warnd the Christians that they would be
imprisoned. The Emperor carried out the threat and St
Nicholas who resisted too was also imprisoned. For more
than five years, St Nicholas was confined to a small
cell. He suffered from cold, hunger, and thirst, but he
never wavered in his beliefs. In 313, when Diocletian
resigned, and Constantine came to power Nicholas was
released, and he returned to his post as Bishop of Myra.
He continued his good works and became even wiser and
more understanding by the time of his death on December
In the eyes of the Catholics, a saint is someone who has
lived such a holy life that, after dying and going to
heaven, he or she is still able to help people on earth.
They often become patron to different groups of people -
one such was children and many legends sprang up to
explain his presence.
By 450, churches in Asia Minor and Greece were being
named in honor of him. By 800, he was officially
recognized as the a saint by the Eastern Catholic
In the 1200s, December sixth began to be celebrated as
Bishop Nicholas Day in France.
By end of the 1400s, St Nicholas was the third most
beloved religious figure, after Jesus and Mary. There
were more than 2000 chapels and monasteries named after
In the 1500s people in England stopped worshipping St
Nicholas and favored more another gift giving figure
Father Christmas. Over the centuries, St. Nicholas'
popularity grew, and many people in Europe made up new
stories that showed his concern for children. The name
Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch Sinter Klass
pronunciation of St. Nicholas. Early Dutch settlers in
New York (once called New Amsterdam) brought their
traditions of St Nicholas. As children from other
countries tried to pronounce Sinter Klass, this soon
became Santa Klass, which was settled as Santa Claus.
The old bishop's cloak with mitre, jewelled gloves and
crozier were soon replaced with his red suit and
clothing seen in other modern images.
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ReasonsToBelieve.com - The World of Santa Claus
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