Nicholas became a priest and was appointed a bishop while he was still a young man. He cared for the poor and the sick in his diocese, was exiled and imprisoned by Diocletian for his Christian faith and attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.
One of the stories told about his goodness is the one of the father who had three daughters of marriageable age. The father was poor and couldn't afford dowries for his daughters, which pretty much meant that his daughters were going to be living at home forever mourning because their beaus had gone off to marry other girls, because back then, unless you came with a goat and a pile of quilts and some gold pieces tucked in your shimmy, you weren't wanted and all I can say is thank goodness for the good new days.
Nicholas heard of the father's predicament and
When Nicholas died, there were miracles associated with his relics. He was buried in his cathedral church in Myra, which is part of modern-day Turkey. During his life, he was known for his many kindnesses to children, which gave rise to his patronage of them and to the spread of his good deeds and generosity throughout Europe. As the stories of the good bishop spread, he became known by many different names in many different regions: San Nicola, Sao Nicolo and Father Christmas are three of them. In the United States, we took our name "Santa Claus" from the Dutch who settled New Amsterdam; their name for him was Sinterklass, the Netherlands version of St. Nicholas, which brings me to another story.
I have a friend who attended a home schooling conference here in Indiana. There was, as always, a vendors' hall, but there were also lots of workshops available for the attendees. My friend was interested in one titled "Keeping Christ in Christmas," so she went to it, hoping to hear some good advice on how not to let materialism rule your family's life during the season of peace of earth and goodwill to men.
Instead, she got a lecture on, let's see....COULD IT BE SATAN??!! Oh, yes, it certainly could!
"We should have known that allowing our children to believe in Santa Claus was evil," the workshop presenter told the assembled group of mothers, her eyes wide and serious. "Because if you re-arrange the letters of the word 'santa'? You get S-A-T-A-N." Then, according to my friend, the presenter crossed her arms, gazed beadily at the moms and nodded her head smugly.
"Did you...?" I asked.
"Sort of," she sighed. "I said, 'But the word 'santa' is actually an honorific that means 'saint.'"
"What did she say?" I queried.
"She said, and I quote, 'Same thing.'"
"Oh," I said.
"Exactly," she nodded. "So if you're the kind of person who believes that a saint is the same thing as a demon, there's no way I'm going to be able to convince you that Santa Claus is not evil, even if you'd actually prefer not to tell your kids that some jolly old elf is going to fly his magical reindeer onto the roof and come into the house in the dead of night to leave presents under the tree."
"Exactly," I said. "And they don't need to know who really eats the cookies then either, right?"