Merry Christmas everyone! Here’s a little something you can share with your children today.
The first Santa Claus was a real person named St. Nicholas. He was more than just a legend – he was a real man who lived long ago and had a heart for giving gifts at Christmas.
St. Nicholas lived sometime between the 3rd and 4th centuries (that’s hundreds and hundreds of years ago). Stories about his generous heart were retold so many times that some of the tales grew into legends. (more)
The people of Russia said he had reindeer; the Scandinavians said he lived in the snow; the Dutch were the first to call him Santa Claus; and the Americans made him fat and jolly with a red and white coat.
But the real St. Nicholas wore the robes of a priest, he was a man of God. When he was only 19 years old, he became the bishop of a church in Myra, which was in the country now known as Turkey. According to church history books, many miracles have been recorded as a result of his prayers.
St. Nicholas understood that life’s real treasure is found in receiving Jesus as Savior and doing what is right in the eyes of God. He discovered that joyful peace comes from loving others, just as Jesus said (John 13:34, 35). He inherited a lot of money from his Christian parents when they died, but he gave most of it away to help people in need.
One story tells of how St. Nicholas wanted to help three very poor sisters, but their father was too proud to receive money. So St. Nicholas snuck up in the night and threw three little bags (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house.
Another version of that story has St. Nicholas throwing the money bags down the chimney instead…..(sound familiar?).
There are other stories of St. Nicholas leaving money in shoes that people left out on their stoop. That’s probably where the tradition of hanging up Christmas stockings came from.
It seems likely that St. Nicholas never meant to become the icon of Christmas, but his passion to give to others in response to God’s greatest gift – His only Son, Jesus – is what this holiday is all about.