St. Nicholas Day: Who is the Jolly Man in the Red Suit?

St. Nicholas

With Christmas right around the corner, and the famous TV shows coming on about Santa Clause, St. Nicholas, the question is raised who is the man in the red suit? Is Santa real? Although, Santa Clause is not alive currently, it is believed that he did in fact exist once.

Saint Nicholas, although very little is truly known about the man, was believed to be born in Patara, Lycia to a wealthy family in approximately the third century. His parents raised him to be a devoted Christian, and he followed the lessons of Christ so closely they believe, that when his parents passed away, leaving him a large sum of money, he did as Jesus had commanded to: “sell what you own and give the money to the poor”; he therefore did not keep the money that he inherited.

He was known to be very generous to a wide range of people, and one website claims that “he threw bags of gold through the windows of three girls about to be forced into lives of prostitution”; however, another website refers to a very similar story where a poor man could not offer a proper dowry to get his three daughters married to good husbands and was possibly going to have to sell his girls into slavery; one thing both stories have in common is that in both stories bags of gold were mysteriously granted to the family.

After a couple of miracles, the people of Myra chose him to be their new bishop, however, due to the Roman Emperor Diocletion, Nicholas suffered for his faith. It is believed that he was exiled as well as imprisoned for believing the way he did; he is not thought to have been released until Constantine became the new emperor  and afterwards St. Nicholas, true to his faith, continued to preach in Myra.

When Nicholas went back to preach, he found another threat in Arianism which denied the divinity of Christ entirely. He is said to have attended the Council of Nicia and some biographers believe he slapped Arius in the face; the other bishops at the council are said to have been so shocked at St. Nicholas that they removed him from his position as Bishop.

Many stories are told of miracles that the man had performed  one story claims that three boys had been robbed and murdered by an inn keeper, and their bodies hidden away. St. Nicholas happened to stop at the very same inn, and dreamt of the crime during the night; the story claims that he then summoned the inn keeper to him and as Saint Nicholas prayed to God the three boys were restored to life. In France, the very same story is told, but the inn keeper is a butcher in this story and the three boys are three small children.

Saint Nicholas day is celebrated on December 6 to commemorate the famous historical figure who teaches children, even in the culture’s stories, that someone will always be there for them, and that Santa Clause will be the protector of them, their hopes, and their dreams.

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