For the second of Advent I thought I would write about a man with white hair and a white beard. He is typically seen wearing a red sleeping hat with a fuzzy, white ball at its tip and white trim around its opening. He also wears a red shirt and pants with a shiny, black belt and black boots. He is a somewhat chubby looking fellow and he is always in the company of eight reindeer. I have been told he has a somewhat contagious chuckle as well.
I have never actually met him, although I have seen his helpers in the toy store down town; actually saw one sitting on a park bench last week. I guess he was on a break because he was sipping at a paper mug of coffee and he looked pretty tired. No doubt he was exhausted after months of hard work building, painting and packing toys.
Santa Claus… a jolly fellow for sure! Have you ever wondered where this magical, enigmatic man comes from? The name Santa Claus is the English form of the Dutch name for St. Nickolas (Sinterklaas).
St. Nickolas lived about 1, 7000 years ago in Patara, in modern day Turkey. His parents were devout believers who had long prayed for a child. When Nickolas was finally born, they devoted him to God. He was still quite young when plague struck the city, killing both his mother and his father. It was the loss of his parents that made his heart tender to the suffering of others.
There are a good many stories about the life of Nickolas and many of them emphasize his kindness and generosity. After his death on December 6, a tradition of gift giving was begun in his honor. It was St. Nickolas who first dropped gold coins into stockings, which later became the tradition of filling stockings with Christmas gifts.
Today, many people believe that Santa Claus is the spirit of Saint Nickolas, whose kindness and good deeds still live on and December 6th is recognized as being St. Nickolas Day in many countries.
Santa Claus is also known as St. Nick, Kris Kringle, and Father Christmas. On Christmas Eve, he enters the homes of good children, usually via the chimney, bearing gifts of toys that his elves have been busy making all year long. I have no idea why he picks a chimney when a door would be far easier, although I suppose that’s part of his charm.
Christmas truly is a magical time and Christmas without Santa Claus wouldn’t really be Christmas at all.
There is more to Christmas than Santa Claus though and as much as I would love to meet the fellow someday, I think it’s important to mention the real reason for Christmas. December 25th is the day that we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior of humanity. That’s the reason we celebrate and no other.
This year during the holidays, take some inspiration from St. Nickolas and do some good deeds of your own! There are so many ways to give back to your community and there are so many out there who are in desperate need of a helping hand.
Wishing you a wonderful second of Advent