some basis in fact.
And when it comes to the controversial legend of Santa, here are
facts about him that even the most
many internationally famous individuals, Santa reached his greatest
prominence far from the
borders of his original hometown. He started in
what is today the Middle East nation of Turkey as Saint Nicholas,
archbishop of Myra. How he ended up at the North Pole
as jolly old St.
Nick is lost to the dry pages of history
let it suffice to be say that the red suited one had to
travel about as far as any person in history before he settled into his
is actually known about the historical Saint Nicholas, but the legends
that surround him provide the
template for the character we now know as
do know is this: he was born around the year 245 A.D.
parents. He devoted his life to the church, eventually becoming the
archbishop of Myra. He was tortured for his
beliefs until Emperor
Constantine changed the official religion of the Roman Empire to
Christianity. And he died on December 6, sometime around 350 A.D. The
Catholic Church has set aside that date as a feast day in his honor.
much of this information is
suspect. The main source is a biography that
was written by a
monk some five centuries after he died.
important then the facts,
though, are the legends that have
around him. Most of these are the
saintly miracles, such as him calming a particularly
nasty storm. But there is also a saintly tale of Saint Nicholas
resurrecting three boys who had been murdered and then
(Let's hope the killer went through the trouble of pickling in order to
hide his crime and not to keep them fresh
there are several stories that exist that show Saint Nicholas performing
acts that we now come to associate with the
lovable figure of Santa
Claus. One of the most interesting of these
tells of his convincing
group of thieves to return their stolen goods, thus causing him to become the
patron saint of thieves (not patron saint in that he helps them rob but,
rather, in that
he helps them
fitting considering Santa Claus, who sneaks into our houses in
the wee hours of Christmas morning and leaves us presents, is a sort of
anti-thief, undoing the deeds of those
is said to look after.
famous tale, though, recounts the story of a once wealthy businessman,
who, having lost his fortune, decided to sell his three daughters into
to raise some money. Hearing of this, Saint Nicholas went
to the man's house at night and threw three bags of coins into the man's
window, one for each of the daughter's
dowries. The young women were
thus able to find good husbands and avoid
the degrading lifestyle to
which they seemed destined.
the connection to the modern day Santa Claus, some versions of this
story have Saint Nicholas arriving with the third daughter's gift bag
but, finding the window shut, was forced to drop her coins down the
chimney and into
a stocking hanging on the mantle to dry. This not only
physically unlikely, but so absurdly similar to today's popular
Christmas traditions that it sounds almost certainly false.
legend of Santa Claus grows with time. Whether your own belief is that
he is real or that he remains a growing figure of modern mythology,
there is no doubt that Santa Claus impacts society
with each passing
season. His name is associated with both good and evil. As are so many
honored names of legend.