As the world celebrates Christmas today, some of us curious souls wonder about who Santa Claus – the symbol of Christmas – really was. Is he a myth – a figment of imagination or was he real?
Santa Claus is the name given to a man named Saint Nicholas. He was a monk (some say a Greek bishop) who was born around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. He was known to have a huge heart, as he donated all of his wealth for the poor and devoted his life for the betterment of those who couldn’t help themselves.
There is one particular tale about Saint Nicholas’ philanthropy that is very famous. There were three poor sisters who were on the verge of being sold by their own father. Saint Nicholas is said to have provided the money for their marriage and saved their lives from being destroyed. He also helped a lot of other people whose stories have been lost in time. What is not lost is his popularity.
Due to his deed of helping others, he became to be known as the protector of mankind. Eventually, his name became synonymous with gifts, philanthropy and helping fellow people. That is how the legend of Saint Nicholas continued. The day he passed away – December 6 – was first the day when gifts were given to children in his honour. Eventually, this date moved to 25th December during Reformation.
According to Britannica Encyclopedia, “The remains of Saint Nicholas are in Italy. In 1087, the Italian city of Bari mounted an expedition to locate the tomb of the Saint. The reliquary of St. Nicholas was conquered by Italian sailors and his relics were taken to Bari.”
Saint Nicholas was known as Sinterklaas in Dutch – probably where the name ‘Santa Claus’ came from.
There is yet another name given to Santa Claus, other than Saint Nicholas -‘Father Christmas’. The folklore behind this is a bit different. During the rule of Henry VIII, Father Christmas was a man wearing a coat lined with fur who brought in gifts, joy and happiness to mankind.
Today, Santa Claus is a symbol for being a ray of happiness in someone else’s life. While not all Santa Clauses maybe be dressed in red and white and have a long beard, they still do an amazing job of making this world a better place to live in for children and adults alike.