“He sees when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad, or good. So be good, for goodness sake…” If you live in the western world, you already know this line from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Harry Connick Jr. We’ve all heard the songs and seen the movies, but you may not know the true story behind the legend of the man who can fly around the world in just a single night.
Nicholas of Bari was born in the 4th century in the town of Myra, Modern-day Turkey.
His parents died from an epidemic leaving him orphaned and ended up being raised by the bishop of Myra. The Bishop loved him very much and once told people that he had a vision of Nicholas growing up to bring a lot of people joy.
Since Nicholas came from an orphan background, he really had a soft spot for orphans and would often create and make toys for them. He was a simple person that needed a lot to be happy and would often help people out in the city anonymously – giving them gold and other presents in their time of need. This also ended up motivating others to start giving out more freely in people in need and helping others.
So the tradition started. Nicholas ended up becoming the next bishop of Myra so we know 100% that he was a real person and he ended up getting a saint-hood when he died for children, as well as (surprisingly) sailors. People started praying more and more towards him and through this many believed he had magical powers while alive and beyond.
Up until the 16th century, Nicholas became one of the most popular of the catholic saints. After a while, more and more kids would start praying for Nicholas and leaving stockings and shoes out in Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands on Saint Nicholas day. Sure enough, soon when they woke up it would have been filled with sweets, chocolates and small toys.
Then came Martin Luther. a German professor of theology, priest, author, a composer that became a Christian Monk, wanting to move away from saint hoods and decided to instead tell the people and the children that the gifts actually did not come from saint Nicholas, but instead from the baby Jesus or as he was referred to the Christkindl – so can you imagine the confusion of everyone knowing that it’s Saint Nicholas bringing the gifts but now they are told no, hold on, it’s baby Jesus…
To make it even slightly more confusing Christkindl was confused to be Kris Kringle which is a nickname that ended up sticking for Saint Nicholas. Then later the Dutch started saying Sinter Clause and of course, as with all things in our society, the English got a hold of it and renamed him Santa Clause that became part of the British, as well as the American tradition.
Overtime, More and writers would add stories to Santa Clause, talking about how he looked, how he rode a wagon to delivery presents and more of who Santa was came into existence. So instead of thinking of a 4th-century saint, people now started to see a jolly man in a red and white suite climbing through chimneys instead.
Furthermore, in 1821 an anonymous author wrote and illustrated a story showcasing Santa having upgraded his wagon to a sleigh with one reindeer in front.
In 1889 famous poet Katharine Lee Bates created a spouse for Santa called Mrs Claus – Although we were never really told how they met or when they got married or if they ever had any children.
As time continued the stories evolved, where he was now moved to the Northpole to a secret location and we got introduced to magical elves that became his team of crafty toy-makers and helps as well as 8 magical reindeer with the ability to fly. Making travelling for Santa Claus, much easier now to deliver all of those presents!
Along came 1939 – Where he added RUDOLPH! The celebrity reindeer because that is the one reindeer everyone knows, why? because he had a red nose. Rudolph, the red nose reindeer.
As time went on, more and more people started dressing up as Santa Claus and started making appearances all around for kids to see. During the industrial revolution, he was able to streamline more of his operation and since he was not making ll the toys alone anymore, he was able to show a more public appearance at different organisations and countries for everyone to see. His payment usually included some milk and cookies.
With modern technology, there have been many theories and suggestion of how Santa deliveries the presents each year include numerous trackers for you to enjoy to see how he delivered the presents. Scientists have also worked out that in order for him to reach all the children in the world in one night, he would have to be travelling at speeds of 2000 KMS.
In the end, the magic behind Nicholas of Bari, The Patron saint of Children and Sailors and his generosity was so inspiring that it truly kept his spirit alive for a thousand years in the now form of Santa Claus. Never again should you have doubt, that kindness will not prevail as his story is truly evidence that kindness, sharing joy, being the best you can be, can stand the test of time.
Christmas is a period, where regardless of your belief system, it can become a magical and precious time to spend with your family and friends and appreciate the little things in life.
To those who are alone, there are always online communities and volunteer programs to join. Truly a time for all to come together.
Have a Great Christmas everyone!
Thank you for reading… #TheSomethingGuy #SouthAfrica #Blog