Tales of Santa Claus

Posted by Dan Kroger, OFM on 12/6/16 7:00 AM

Saint Nicholas: Wikimedia Commons

Just in from the US Postal Service is an email announcing their “Letters from Santa” program. The press release claims that Letters from Santa is a memorable Thanksgiving Day family activity. Here is the link, if you want further information. The basic idea is how to get a personalized response from Santa for the cost of some postage.

First, I should confess that I spilled the beans on Santa Claus when I was a smart-aleck little kid. I was in the second or third grade when my father was drafted to dress up and play Santa Claus around the neighborhood. I saw right through that white beard and curly wig under the red Santa cap, recognizing him. Immediately I loudly proclaimed “Hi, Dad.” So I blew my father’s cover in front of the other young kids. Dad was not amused.

Second, since I am reminded of that incident, I think it is important to write something about the real Saint Nicholas, lest I be relegated to the Ebenezer Scrooge category for all eternity.

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Saint Nicholas was actually a fourth-century bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia in the province of Asia Minor of the Eastern Roman Empire. There are many stories circulated about Bishop Nicholas in both the Eastern and Western Churches. He was a friend of the poor and those needing his help.

The best known of the stories about Saint Nicholas was how he helped a poor family that had three daughters of marriageable age. As their parents had no means of supplying a suitable dowry for each of the three, Bishop Nicholas secretly provide one for each daughter, by throwing a sack of gold coins through the window of their home on three separate occasions. Over the centuries this developed into the custom of gift-giving on the feast of Saint Nicholas. The name for this saint was eventually shortened to Santa Claus. American merchants and artists developed the image of Jolly Ole Saint Nick as part of their Christmas merchandising. 

What is probably most important is that parents and all adults be careful about being truthful and sharing proper attitudes toward Santa Claus and material possessions as we move forward into the season of gift-giving.

The Soul of Christmas by Thomas Moore

Topics: Christmas, saint nicholas, santa