From St. Nicholas to Sinter Claus to Santa Claus…this wonderful man, forerunner to our Santa Claus, was a bishop in a village called Myra, in what is now Turkey. This saint has a scant biography: came from wealthy, family, loved his faith, became a priest and bishop. It is likely he actually attended the first ecumenical council of the Church: the Council of Nicaea that gave us our Nicene Creed which we pray every Sunday and Holyday. His name, “Nicholas of Myra” appears on the roster of those who attended the Council, though no record exists that he said anything during the deliberations.
The one incident in his life that cannot be verified historically is that he helped a poor couple with three daughters by secretly giving a dowry in the form of gold to each of the daughters. Hence, he became associated with secretly giving gifts. After his death, many legends of Nicholas began to be told: calming of turbulent waters, healing miracles and countless other stories clearly not historical but are testaments to the saint’s popularity. Thousands of churches are named after this beloved saint. Many cities and even countries have Nicholas as their patron.
Nicholas lived a humble life on the rock of Christ. His life was all about selfLESS giving, the heart of our devotion to Santa Claus. If we and our children are to emulate Nicholas, we best do so by giving generously giving to those in need. We teach our children by example when we ask Santa not just what gifts we can get, but what gifts we can give.
The symbols of Nicholas: boot or shoe, since children would put food and treats for Nicholas’s horse or donkey in shoes placed on roadside; candy cane, symbol of Bishop’s crozier or staff; boat or ship, since he is patron of sailors (Myra, his village, was a sea coast town); anchor, due to his ministry to sailors; three gold coins, symbolizing the three poor daughters and their dowries.
If you can have something sweet, do so to celebrate this wonderful Saint. Don’t worry about processed sugar, simply enjoy.
Peace. Fr. Frank