Santa Claus is one of the most popular and beloved holiday icons, adored by old and young alike. While the modern Santa is distinctly an American Creation, his story started thousands of miles away from the American soil in a place called Myra, in Asia Minor (now Turkey). St. Nicholas was a bishop who lived in the 4th century A.D, a rich and kind man who had inherited a lot of money after his parents had died who loved to help the poor with his money. There are many stories attributed to the generosity of Saint Nicholas. One particularly stands out.
Legend has it; there was once a man who had three daughters. He was very poor; he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn’t get married. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house to help in marrying off the eldest daughter. The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, the poor man determined to discover the person who had given him the money, secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the word of his generosity spread and children began hanging their stockings by their fireplaces hoping that St. Nicholas would come to visit.
His immense kindness earned him Sainthood and he became popular as St. Nick or St.Nicholas. He is not only the saint of children but also of sailors! One story tells of him helping some sailors that were caught in a dreadful storm off the coast of Turkey. The storm was raging around them and all the men were terrified that their ship would sink beneath the giant waves. They prayed to St. Nicholas to help them. Suddenly, he was standing on the deck before them. He ordered the sea to be calm, the storm died away, and they were able to sail their ship safely to port.
St. Nicholas died on December 6 in 345 or 352 A.D; the same day now being celebrated as St. Nicholas’s Day, a celebration of gift giving day around the Christian Europe. For many Europeans St. Nick celebrations would merge with Christmas Day celebrations as a result of which different names and looks of Santa emerged.
In Holland, Santa Claus was known as Sinterklaas which later evolved as Santa Claus after the Dutch Settled in North America. Historically, Santa Claus was a slim and somber man. However, in 1823 Dr. Clement Clark an American, in his famous poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ or ‘T’was the Night before Christmas’, changed his description to a round, plump and jolly man, with a long white beard. Hence the Modern Santa Claus, an American Icon was born. Since then, Santa Claus remains one of the world’s most recognizedevery year this year too, millions of children will await their Santa children receive their presents on Christmas Eve night or early Christmas morning, but in some countries they get their presents on St. Nicholas’ Day, December 6th.
The Red & White Robes!
St. Nicholas had worn his Bishop’s red robes. During Victorian times, he wore a range of colors (red, green, blue and brown fur) but red was always his favorite! In January 1863, the magazine Harper’s Weekly published the first illustration of St. Nicholas by Thomas Nast. This is when Santa really started to develop his big tummy and the style of red and white outfit he wears today. Nast designed Santa’s look on some historical information about Santa and the poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’.
Get Ready For Christmas
December is the month of celebrations and as soon as the world enters into this last month of year, the festivities of Christmas coupled with New Year emerge from all around the globe. The markets are beautified in the lively spirit of Christmas Decorations make a wonderful view for everyone. While Christmas marks the end of the year, the festive spirit continues till the eve of New Year.
Last but not the least, this Christmas, the Santa is coming all the way from the snow clad peaks of Kashmir. He has beautiful gifts for everyone. So forget not to hang out a pair of stockings by the fire or on your door!