Saint Nicoloas and the Sinterklaas

For the past few years, we have been celebrating Saint Nick's Day with our children on December 6th. They really enjoy all the renditions of who Saint Nick is and how the story spins that of Santa Claus. Tonight, we just finished coloring pictures of Nick, retelling the story, leaving out our shoes (this time we left out our stockings since Teddy's shoes are very small), and are looking forward to the morning with stockings full of treats. :)

I've heard so many stories of Saint Nick. Yet, the one I like the most is of the wealthy Turkish man...

A long, long time ago (as all good stories begin) there lived a wealthy man named Nicoloas, a Greek Bishop of Lycia in what is now modern-day Turkey. In this village where he lived, there was a man who was once wealthy as well, but by a twist of fate, he lost everything. This was devastating to the old man because his three daughters were of marrying age. Without a proper dowry they could not marry. If they could not marry, they would be forced into a life of prostitution. When word reached Nicoloas of the poor man's plight, his heart was over burdened. Perhaps he knew this man when times were better--when money was to be had? Perhaps he knew his daughters and was brokenhearted over the bleak future that lie ahead of them? Nicoloas had everything he could want and desire. His every need was met. Yet, he still had more than enough.

Then, one dark night when the village was sound asleep. Nicoloas slipped out of the comfort and safety of his home. As cunning as a thief, cloaked in black, he slipped a bag of gold into the old man's home. There was enough money to keep the young ladies from a life of prostitution.

Legend has it that whenever a family was in need, a bag of gold would miraculously appear. Sometimes he simply left gifts on doorsteps. Other times he slipped gold coins in shoes.

But in a more gruesome tale is how a terrible famine swept the land one year, causing a Butcher's shop to grow lean. That's when the iniquitous butcher spied three orphan boys. He lured them into the shop, killed them, butchered them, and made them into meat pies. But Saint Nicoloas saw what the butcher had done and raised the boys from the dead and the evil the Butcher had committed was revealed to the village.

Whatever myth you prefer, the truth is that Saint Nicoloas was a real man. You may even visit his tomb in Myra, if you wish. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this man, is how his good nature, his desire to give and save people from their anguish, spun the most popular story of Santa Claus--the Dutch name for Sinterklaas. Can you imagine leaving such an impact in your lifetime that myths and legends surpassing time are left behind in your wake?

If you ask me, that kind of humility and Christian love is worth teaching my children. Many Christians fuss about how Christmas is based off pagan rituals and beliefs. If you get to the root of the matter, you will instead find more of the story of Christ and his characteristics. It is all in how you celebrate it...and what you pass on to you children. After all, most of out Christmas traditions were made to cover up those of the pagans.

But that's for future posts.


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