Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ho ho ho, Santa Claus is coming to town...


I believe in Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny. Oh well, maybe Easter Bunny is a bit of a stretch. While Tooth Fairy is a complete mystery the dude from the North Pole with magical elves and reindeers, circles the world in 24 hours bringing present to children, is a real legend. He’s in movies, stories, commercials, and he is the hero of Christmas.

St. Nicholas is a man behind the story of Santa Claus. St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in 4th century somewhere in today's Turkey. He was a very rich man, his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it.

There was a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for the wedding of his daughter, so his daughters couldn't get married. Back then a sum of money is paid to the bridegroom by the bride's parents on the wedding day. This still happens in some countries, even today. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house. This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married. The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second and third daughter. 

St. Nicholas was exiled from his place of birth and later put in prison during the persecution by Emperor Diocletian. No one really knows when he died, but it was on 6th December. His bones are now kept in the Church named after him in the Italian port of Bari.

Since then and until now St. Nicholas still brings the presents to children at Christmas. In early days, in England, he was known as 'Father Christmas', in France, he was known as 'Père Nöel'. In Austria and Germany, he was the 'Christkind'. In the early USA, his name was 'Kris Kringle'. Later, Dutch settlers brought the old stories of St. Nicholas so Kris Kringle and St Nicholas became 'Sinterklaas' or as we now say 'Santa Claus'!


Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, who was the Son of God. The name 'Christmas' comes from the mass of Christ (or Jesus). So we get the name Christ-Mass, shortened to Christmas.

No one knows the real birthday of Jesus! No date is given in the Bible, so why it is celebrated on the 25th December? Also, the birth of Jesus probably didn't happen in the year 1 but slightly earlier, somewhere between 2 BC and 7 BC, note that there isn't a year 0.

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor. A few years later, Pope Julius officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.

Some people also think that December 25th might have been chosen because of the Winter Solstice when the sun is closest to the earth...

This and other interesting Christmas stories can be found at https://www.whychristmas.com/ .


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