Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Santa Claus is part of modern Christmas and he's everywhere and does everything. He even drinks Coca Cola in Frankenmuth, MI. He surfs in Melbourne, Australia; he rides a pink pig in Atlanta, GA; and he flies around the world at NORAD. Santa Claus has been the main character in stories, movies, songs, poems, myths, and legends. He talks to kids and finds out what they want to make the very presents that the children ask for appear under their Christmas Tree on Christmas Day. Let's face it, who wouldn't want a job that made that many children happy? Where I live, everyone wants to be Santa. I don't blame them. But, where did the legend come from, and what is it like there at Christmas?
In case you've ever wondered, Santa Claus comes from St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a bishop in the times of Constantine and was born in the now historic port town of Myra, Turkey. That is where the legend began. St. Nicholas was a rather wealthy servant of God who inherited a significant amount of money from his parents. He decided to do good with it. As is the case still today, there were a lot of poor people in Myra, and at that point in time a dowry had to be provided by a woman's father in order for her to marry. That became a purpose for St. Nicholas. He took bags of coins and dropped them down chimneys of less fortunate women so that they would be able to marry and have a family. That was the seed that grew into the gift giving legend of today.
The man had no idea what he started. He had no idea that his good intentions would turn into a bunch of expectant children demanding video games for Christmas. The Catholic Church canonized him not only as the patron saint of children but also the patron saint of sailors. His kindness and generosity made the lives of hundreds of people better. Nobody knows when St. Nicholas really died and his remains were stolen from Myra in the year 1087 and now lie in Bari, Italy. The English started the ball rolling with St. Nicholas becoming father Christmas and then Santa Claus. These days, Santa is hard at work with all his helpers around the world; making Christmas special for children. But, we should remember that it was this man, St. Nicholas that was the root of the legend that is so beloved today.
Myra still sports it's Roman Ruins today, and is an amazing place to visit. If you can make it on Christmas, you'll get to be there when the man himself is honored. There are services at the Church of Saint Nicholas on Christmas to remember one of the most generous men that ever lived.
So, come and take part in remember the history before the legend. It's wonderful to know the true story, and to remember St. Nicholas. It gives meaning to Santa Claus and I think that children would love to hear where their beloved legend started. I raised my son to believe that the men in red suits were all there to remind us of the spirit of giving in the name of St. Nicholas. He's fifteen now, and still loves Santa Claus. So, if you like to visit interesting places for the holidays; this one is a whopper. Take a tour and include the town where Santa Claus was born as Nicholas, later to become St. Nicholas, the Patron Saint of Children and Sailors.