Monday, 3 January 2011

The "real" visit from St. Nicholas

One of the characters we encounter this time of year is Santa Claus. This name is derived through the Dutch "sinterklaas" or St. Nicholas, and that much is known by many.

The real St. Nicholas was a Turkish Bishop of the 4th century, whose feast is December 6.  He was known as a generous and giving man, and the most famous legend surrounding this attribute of his character is this one (taken from ):

"However, in his most famous exploit, a poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment would have to become prostitutes. Hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him but being too modest to help the man in public (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house.

One version has him throwing one purse for three consecutive nights. Another has him throw the purses over a period of three years, each time the night before one of the daughters comes "of age". Invariably, the third time the father lies in wait, trying to discover the identity of their benefactor. In one version the father confronts the saint, only to have Saint Nicholas say it is not him he should thank, but God alone. In another version, Nicholas learns of the poor man's plan and drops the third bag down the chimney instead; a variant holds that the daughter had washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, and that the bag of gold fell into the stocking."

This is the spirit of giving that we remember as we celebrate God's greatest gift during the Christmas season.  We hope you enjoyed hearing the legend from a somewhat more "orthodox" persective.

by Magis Center of Reason and Faith on Friday, 24 December 2010 at 15:48