Spirit of Saint Nicholas represents hope for all


photo or infographic by Carlie Rutledge

WANTED. Santa Claus impersonator is on the loose, please help find the imposter before it is too late.

Santa Claus is a famous name known throughout the world. Most people believe in him at a young age, but as the years go by, they lose their sight in him. He gives gifts to the nice, and coal to naughty. He makes a list and checks it twice. Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the rest are known. But the questions that dwell around is who really is Santa Claus, where did he come from and if he was a real person.

Saint Nicholas lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor, which is now known as  Turkey. He lost his parents at a young age and used his inheritance to help the poor and sick. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who was a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor by giving secret gifts to people who needed it.  

There are many legends about Saint Nicholas that many people do not know. The most famous is the custom of hanging up stockings to put presents in. The story behind this is about a poor man who had three daughters. The man was so poor that he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn’t get married. A dowry is a sum of money paid to the  groom by the bride’s parents on the wedding day.  Nicholas heard about the family situation, so one night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house. The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry. This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married. 

This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out, and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.

Because of his kindness, Nicholas was made a Saint. Sadly, St. Nicholas was exiled from his town and later put in prison during the persecution by an emperor. No one really knows when he died. His bones are kept in a church named after him in an Italian port. 

So that is how Saint Nicholas slowly evolved into the character we know as Santa Claus. In the UK, but particularly England, he was known as the Father Christmas or Old Man Christmas. In some countries in parts of Austria and Germany, the present giver became ‘Christkind’ a golden-haired baby, with wings, who symbolizes the new born baby Jesus. Stories, poems, songs begin to be written about Saint Nicholas’ doings. 

Saint Nicholas was a real person, and later on, Santa Claus developed in his place. But it is not just about the jolly old man in red who carries a big sack of presents and rides on a sleigh with reindeer flying him. His character and legend has been to represent hope. Hope for children, or even, at times, the adults.  It is important to understand that the character was created in honor of Saint Nicholas. He represents something bigger than himself.

Hope is something that cannot be seen, but it is there. It is hope for the kids or anyone who wants it. He cannot be seen, but that is not the point. He is meant to inspire the youth that life has more to it. Santa reminds kids and adults alike to be nice and kind to everyone. Santa encourages children to listen to their parents and to be good even when no one is watching. The spirit of Santa is what the world needs this year more than ever.