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Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Real Santa Claus

Let me preface this by saying I love Christmas. It's one of my most favorite times of the year. I love the music, the food, the time with family, the giving, the way we can all tap into our inner child and celebrate the wonderful magic and majesty of the season.

However, I have been reading a lot of blog posts lately about "doing Santa" and "not doing Santa". I personally don't care one way or the other what one does in their own home, with their own family. It's a personal choice as to which side of the argument you choose to support. I think we all need to remember who Santa was, who he is, and what he's becoming.

Santa Claus is part of the magic and mystique of Christmas. He is a mythical being/spirit encompassing the wonderful power of the giving of this season. Santa Claus, however, is based on a real person, Saint Nicholas of Myra (Bari), also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Over the years, Santa Claus has become a highly commercialized advertising gimmick used by retail companies to sell over-priced merchandise to consumers. We see the jolly, fat elf in the red suit hawking everything from toys to sodas to clothing and cars, and we have settled for this abomination of a beloved entity from our childhoods. The real Santa Claus, Saint Nichols, was a man who lived long ago, using his wealth to help those he felt needed it the most. A poor man who needed dowry for his daughters so they wouldn't be sold into slavery, or poor children who needed a little joy and hope in their lives. This wonderful man's life and good deeds have been twisted and distorted by modern day commercialism.

Nicholas was born in the third century, in the village of Patara, on the southern coast of what is now Turkey. His wealthy parents raised him to be a devout Christian, and, after their deaths, he obeyed Jesus' words and used his inheritance to help the poor, needy, sick and suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God.

As a young man, he was made Bishop of Myra, and became known for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/)

Bishop Nicholas suffered greatly, and was imprisoned, for his faith under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians during his reign. After his release, he attended the council of Nicaea in AD 325. He reportedly died on December 6, AD 343 in Myra. December 6 is known as St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 19 on the Julian Calendar).

Since his death, the many stories and legends told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds help us to understand his character, and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper to those in need.

So whether you are Christian and believe this is a time of year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the ultimate gift to man from God; or Jewish and celebrate Hanukkah, commemorating the eight nights the lamp oil lasted during the Maccabean Revolt; or you observe Kwanzaa, celebrating the seven principles (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith); or you observe Yule at the Winter Solstice, celebrating the rebirth of the sun and beginning of Winter; we all need to remember the most important thing about this season – FAMILY! Whether you are related by blood, marriage or by mutual love and understanding (i.e. friends), we all need to come together at this time of giving and love, celebrate with family and friends, and remember to love on another, no matter what our beliefs are, or how we celebrate.

So, in essence, we are all Santa Claus. Giving gifts to those we love and care about, spreading the love of the season to all.


 

Season's Greetings! Happy Holidays!