The Story of Saint Nick

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The Story of Saint Nick

Lilly Crew, Journalist

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Through the years holiday traditions have come and gone. However the one man that brings us all together remains the same: Santa Claus.

As children we see Santa Claus as a bearded man dressed in red, directing his reindeer through the sky. But believe it or not, the legend of Saint Nick dates all the way back to the third century. 

Around the year 280 A.D, Nicholas of Bari was born. He was known for his generosity and his many travels in what is now modern day Turkey. Nicholas helped the poor and sick, and is most famously remembered for saving three young girls from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father. Nicholas came to their rescue, providing them with dowries allowing  them each to be married.

In the centuries that followed, his popularity spread and by the Renaissance he was the most famous saint in all of Europe. Dec. 6th, the day of his death, is celebrated  every year with a feast, and it is also considered a very lucky day to make large purchases or decisions.

The popular Christmas tale, “‘Twas the night before Christmas” was adapted from a nineteenth century poem that depicts Saint Nicholas as a, “jolly elf” who scales roofs and climbs down chimneys in order to bring gifts to deserving children. The story, originally written for the author’s three daughters, gained popularity quickly and jolly Saint Nick became an American icon. 

The name “Santa Claus” is derived from the Dutch name, “Sinter Klass”, who is known for riding a white horse and placing gifts in the shoes of well behaved children on the eve of Dec. 5th. The likeness of Santa Claus was drawn in 1881 by political cartoonist, Thomas Nast. Nast depicted him wearing a red suit, and sporting a white beard and round belly. The image stuck and it is still how we see him today.

No matter the place or occasion, Santa Claus holds a special spot in the hearts of every child. They leave Santa special gifts on the eve of the holiday and in turn he leaves them gifts in their shoes or stockings. Well, at least he does for the good little boys and girls.