Do you know St. Nicholas (modern Santa Claus)?
Children cannot imagine Christmas without Father Christmas or Santa Claus. But how many of us know the tradition behind this image? The first Santa Claus had his roots in the church. His name was Nicholas, bishop of Myra (an ancient city along the Mediterranean coast of what is now Turkey).
Saint Nicholas – A Re- Distributor of Resources
It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and travelled the countryside helping the poor and sick. Nicholas is said to have saved Myra from starvation by providing food grains to the people.
According to tradition, a poor family in Myra had three daughters and that family was not able to conduct their marriage due to the lack of dowries. This made the life of girls to a life of shame and possible prostitution. Bishop Nicholas took it upon himself to supply their dowries, anonymously slipping bags of gold into their home—some say into stockings that were hanging up to dry. In securing their dowries—and so their right to marry—he rescued them from an otherwise degrading destiny.
The traditions say that he used to handing out treats and coins to children (often leaving them in the shoes). He was saint of Children and poor.
Saint Nicholas and Modern Santa Claus
A Dutch tradition kept St. Nicholas' story alive in the form of Sinterklaas, a bishop who travelled from house to house to deliver treats to children. The first anglicising of the name to Santa Claus was in a story that appeared in a New York City newspaper in 1773.
In the book “A History of New York (1809)” Washington Irving characterised Santa as a portly, bearded man who smokes pipe. Irving’s story also marked the first time Santa slid down the chimney.
Clement Moore's 1822 poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas (which is now more commonly referred to as "Twas the Night before Christmas") introduced many of Santa's defining characteristics including he drove a sleigh guided by "eight tiny reindeer."
When Father Christmas first began showing up in illustrations, he wore many different coloured robes: Green, purple, blue, and brown, among others. Beginning in the late 1800s, it became popular to outfit Santa in a red suit. Artist Louis Prang depicted him that way in a series of Christmas cards in 1885, and The New York Times reported on the red garments in 1927.
Santa Claus – A Marketing tool
The modern image of Santa Claus as the jolly man in the red suit was introduced into American pop culture in 1931, when artist Haddon Sundblom illustrated him that way for a widely-circulated campaign for Coca-Cola. Almost last 200 years the Market used the image of Saint Nicholas (Modern Santa Claus) as a marketing tool and it continues even today.
Let us liberate the tradition of St. Nicholas from the hands of the Market……..
Saint Nicholas was a saint who lived for the people and understood the pain of the people and distributed food, money and gifts to them. But in today’s modern world he was presented as a marketing tool. It is high time to dig out the traditions about Saint Nicholas and learn from that saint instead of presenting him as a “joker” or “marketing tool”. Let us liberate the image of Saint Nicholas from the hands of market and retain in our imaginations as re-distributor of wealth in this Christmas and New Year
Let us uphold and practice the way of life of St. Nicholas(a re-distributor of resources) today in our daily life particularly in this Christmas ………
When we offer a glass of water to a thirsty person… it is Christmas
When we clothe a naked person with a gown of love.....it is Christmas
When we wipe the tears from weeping eyes…… it is Christmas
When the spirit of revenge dies in me…..it is Christmas
When in my heart I no longer want to stay apart….it is Christmas
When I am buried in the being of God……it is Christmas