Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicolas, December 6

Behind all the mystery of Santa Clause, there is a real person.

Nicholas was bishop of Turkey during the 4th century who was known for his generosity and concern for the poor. 

"St. Nicholas Giving Gold to the Three Poor Girls", detail of a painting by Fra Angelico

One of the stories told about him concerns a man who lost all his money. Because he could not provide a dowry for his daughters, they would be unable to marry and would be forced to turn to prostitution to survive. 

Late at night, while the poor man and his daughters slept, Nicholas tossed a small sack of gold through the window. Surprised by the mysterious gift, the eldest daughter now had a dowry and was able to marry her beloved. Again Nicholas brought another sack of gold and the second daughter was able to marry. 

When he came with a gift for the youngest daughter, Nicholas was seen for by her father, who told all of his humble generosity.

Nicholas was imprisoned and exiled under the Roman Emperor Diocletian who was known for his ruthless persecution of Christians. 

Nicolas also participated in the Council of Nicea which formulated the Nicene Creed. 

In fact, there is a story told of him being so agitated by Arius's arguments that he went up to him and SLAPPED him. He should be in Sorority Life.

He was so beloved and well known for his concern for the poor that after his death, people would impersonate him and give out gifts to the poor.

He showed up in Holland as  on a white horsd as Sinterklaas visiting children on the eve of their feast day. The Dutch brought him to America and combined him with the English Father Christmas, were he exchanged his bishops’ vestments for secular clothing. 

The Santa we are most familiar with was influenced by the Nordic God Thor or Odin, the god of peasants and common people. 

Thor was an old and friendly stout man with a long white beard and wore red. The Nordic influence gave Santa is home and factory in the North Pole, along with his sled and reindeer. 

Somewhere, hidden in all the legends and pagan myths, there is a real person. 

A kindly, humble, Christian soul with whom the poor and children identified, who exemplified Jesus words that the Kingdom of God was “for the least of these” 

Christians need not ban Santa from our celebration of Christ’s birth among us. 

But let’s emphasize who he really is. 

He is not the Great Judge who determines who is “naughty or nice” He is not the Great Provider who gives us whatever we want. 

He is an example to us of remember the poor and needy—a reminder that Christmas is a time of giving. During this holiday season, instead of letting Santa do our giving for us, let him be an example for us so that we can be Santa for the children and poor of the world

Here is a great Link about the Real Saint Nick.

1 comment:

  1. The red coat and whiskers, incidentally, were invented by Coca-Cola - before then, he wore green!

    Happy St Nick's Day!