Do you know that tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day? It’s a day to remember a devoted follower of Christ who became the prototype for Santa Claus. I love the stories I learned about the real St. Nicholas as a child and remember them today in honor of St. Nicholas Day.
There was a real man behind the story of Santa Claus. His name was Nicholas.
Nicholas lived in Patara, Lycia in the third century. Lycia is part of southern modern day Turkey.
He and his parents were devout Christians who loved Jesus. His parents died in an epidemic when Nicholas was young and Nicholas inherited a great fortune.
Nicolas used this fortune to help the poor. He followed Jesus’ words that appear in all four gospels…
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.”
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Mark 10: 17-22
So impressed by this gospel story, Nicholas took Jesus’ instructions to heart and obeyed them.
Nicholas used his inheritance to take care of the sick, destitute, and the needy and as a very young man became the Bishop of Myra.
He was renowned for his love of children and his great care for the poor and suffering.
When I was a very little girl I had a Christmas book, long since gone, that told the story of this Turkish saint.
I love the story of how Nicholas supplied the dowry for three destitute sisters by throwing money through their window in three stockings hanging on the mantel to dry, as he would give his gifts anonymously.
This great act of kindness saved the sisters from an unsavory life!
The illustration in my Christmas book captured Bishop Nicholas in these acts of love so beautiful that as a small child I was captivated by his generosity and concern.
Nicholas, the gift-giving, Christ-following, Bishop of Myra is the original Santa Claus!
He was beloved far and wide for his love of Christ and the outpouring of that love to others through gifts and money.
Children in Holland started the tradition of leaving their shoes out by the fireplace or outside their bedroom door for Sinterklaas to leave small toys and treats in them.
Nicholas’ name and story grew as did his legend until he became the Santa Claus we know today.
Originally, Christmas was a day to remember the birth of Emanuel. God coming down to earth in human flesh. His mission was clear. To save men who could not save themselves and to restore peace between God and men.
We all must keep the true meaning of Christmas alive!
It is a day of celebration for all Christ-followers which often includes gift giving!
As you celebrate the Christmas season remember gift-giving is an outpouring of the greatest gift God has given humanity, HIS SON!
Let’s give gifts in the spirit of St Nicholas with the love of Jesus in mind.
It is a time to care for the needy the poor and the suffering in the name of Jesus just like Bishop Nicholas did so many centuries ago!
My little grandchildren will be coming for a Christmas visit. And they will put their shoes outside their bedroom door on Christmas Eve so Santa can fill them.
This year, some of them are old enough to hear and understand the beautiful story of Nicholas and how he used what he had to honor Jesus and help others.
I hope you are blessed by knowing the story of the real Santa Clause!
Merry and Blessed Christmas!