The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. inPatara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).
Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.
The origin of Santa Claus depends on which country’s story you choose to adopt. Santa Claus comes from the Dutch words “Sinter Klaas”, which is what they call their favorite saint, St. Nicholas. He is said to have died on December 6, A.D. 342. December 6th is celebrated as his feast day, and in many countries this is the day he arrives with his presents and punishments.
Nicholas lived in what is now called Turkey. He was born about A.D. 280 in the town of Patras. His parents were wealthy and he was well educated. Nicholas seems to have had a remarkable childhood. While still a young boy he was made Bishop of Myra, and because of this he has been known ever since as the Boy Bishop. He was renowned for his extreme kindness and generosity – often going out at night and taking presents to the needy. Santa’s rise to fame can be traced to two legends – the three daughters and the children at the Inn.