As contrary to the general belief that Santa is a fictional character, facts claim there has been a real Santa who was known as St. Nicolas.
There is actually a man behind the legend. That plump, red fur coat-clad, big-fat sack carrying man, who comes on a sledge from the North Pole only to shower us with gifts! That man who made us believe whatever we’d ask for would magically appear in our stockings hanging out the window on Christmas Eve.
Yes, this Santa Claus, the man we grow up to learn is only imaginary. But there was once a living man of flesh and blood, who would very much sneak out to share presents to children and the needy?
Here’s the whole tale:
So, there was this man called St. Nicholas…
A very long time ago, in the third century, a boy named Nicholas was born to a rich family in the village of Patara in Turkey. His parents died while he was still young leaving him with a lot of wealth.
Nicholas grew to become a priest, and eventually a bishop in Myra (an ancient Greek town). He came to be recognized in the church and among people for assisting the needy using his inherited wealth and for giving unexpected gifts to children.
Imprisoned during the Roman Emperor Diocletian and then freed again by Emperor Constantine, St. Nicholas is believed to have died on a December 6, which is commemorated in his memory as the Feast day of St Nicholas, till date.
Over the ages, St. Nicholas began to be associated with Christmas. As remembered for dropping by unnoticed to distribute gifts among children, a custom developed after his death where he was believed to visit homes on Christmas Eve to carry on with his present-giving tradition.
People from different regions gave him different names and images. In UK, he came to be known as ‘Father Christmas’, while in Holland he was referred to as ‘Sinter Klaas.’ In France, he was ‘Pere Noel’ and in Germany, the ‘Christ Kind’.
In the early USA, he was called was ‘Kris Kringle’. As the Dutch settled in the USA, ‘Kris Kringle’ became ‘Sinterklaas’. And finally, after much corruption, we came to celebrate St Nicholas as ‘Santa Claus’.