Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas! We are all familiar with the large jolly man in red, holding his tummy as he jingles with laughter, sack on his back and a bearded face. Yes we all know Santa Claus, but do you know the history of Santa Claus? Do you know he was actually a Catholic Bishop and priest? His real name is Saint Nicholas. Santa is Latin for Saint and Claus is from the cholas of Nicholas, his feast is on the 6th December and I am here to give you the low down on him.
Saint Nicholas was a good and holy Bishop, he lived around the year 350AD and was the Bishop in Myra, Lycia. So how did this Bishop become the Santa Claus of our day? Well the story goes that he was left a lot of money by his parents and he decided to give his money away secretly to the poor. One old man didn’t have enough money to give his daughters a dowry. In those days a girl could not get married or enter a monastery without a dowry.
So when Bishop Nicholas heard about this he decided to do something for them. One night the bishop went to the old man’s house with three bags of gold and not wishing the family to know it was him who gave the money, threw the three bags of gold through the window and disappeared. The next morning the old mans and his three daughters found the bags and the father was so glad that he could now give his daughters in marriage to three very kind men, and they all lived happily ever after.
Over time we have exchanged the window for a chimney but the effect is the same, sacks of gifts on Christmas day from Santa Claus. And why the red outfit? Well, that’s the colour bishops wore back then. You may see that the Cardinals in Rome still wear a red sash around their waists, and our St Nicholas was a Bishop and a Cardinal. It has always been traditional in Holland and Germany to celebrate this day and give presents on the 6th December not the 25th.
We love this feast here at Ty Mam Duw. Our Sr Elizabeth dresses up as St Nic, she has a red robe and mitre and staff in her hand. She comes to tell us each in turn how naughty or nice we have been. St Nicholas has made his list in heaven and has checked it twice and as a gift for all the good and nice deeds we have done through the year. She presents us each with a chocolate image of himself, which we eat slowly over the Advent period until Christmas day finally arrives to gladden the hearts of all.
So a Ho! Ho! Ho! and a happy St Nicholas feast to you all. I hope you have all been nice and maybe St Nic will visit you and tell you of all your good deeds too. Remember, we are praying for you. Sr Anežka.