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The Real Santa Claus

John on December 24, 2009 at 10:43 pm

LiveScience had a nice article on the history of Santa Claus earlier in the week:

Ol’ St. Nick wasn’t always the rotund, bearded fellow you see gracing Christmas cards. The historical St. Nicholas was the revered Bishop of Myra, a Roman town in what is now Turkey. Born around the year 270 A.D., historians believe, Nicholas became bishop as a young man.

Nicholas was dedicated to helping the poor throughout his life, famously (and anonymously) paying for the dowries of impoverished girls. His reputation as a secret gift-giver around town grew with time, and he became known especially for depositing coins or treats in the shoes of children who would place them out for that very purpose, sometimes in exchange for carrots or hay left for his horses. Nicholas is traditionally depicted wearing a red bishop’s cloak, and was often helped by a small orphan boy, according to some legends.

Canonized after his death, St. Nicholas was named as the patron saint of children, sailors and all of Greece, among others. He remained a popular figure of worship through the Middle Ages, with elaborate feasts held each year on the date of his death – Dec. 6 – and small gifts given to children, usually in their shoes, in his honor.

There’s truth behind the myth.

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Category: Religion & Faith |

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